US ramps up Covid vaccination campaign


WASHINGTON, D.C.: Hundreds more US hospitals geared up to vaccinate their workers Tuesday as federal regulators issued a positive review of a second coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine that’s likely to soon boost the nation’s largest vaccination campaign.

“We’re starting our drumbeat of continuous execution of vaccine as it is available,” Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for Warp Speed, told reporters on Tuesday. “We package and we deliver. It is a constant flow of available vaccine.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said its preliminary analysis confirmed the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, bringing it to the cusp of US authorization.

A panel of outside experts is expected to vote to recommend the vaccine on Thursday, with a final FDA decision coming soon thereafter.

The positive news came as hospitals ramped up vaccinations with the shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which the FDA cleared last week. The Moderna vaccine uses the same technology and showed similarly strong protection against Covid-19.

Packed in dry ice to stay at ultra-frozen temperatures, shipments of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine began arriving at 400 additional hospitals and other distribution sites, one day after the nation’s death toll surpassed a staggering 300,000. The first 3 million shots are being strictly rationed to front-line health workers and elder-care patients, with hundreds of millions more shots needed over the coming months to protect most Americans.

A second vaccine can’t come soon enough as the country’s daily death count continues to top 2,400 amid over 210,000 new daily cases, based on weekly averages of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The devastating toll is only expected to grow in coming weeks, fueled by holiday travel, family gatherings and lax adherence to basic public health measures.

The first vaccine deliveries have provided a measure of encouragement to exhausted doctors, nurses and hospital staffers around the country. CURRENTPH

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