Story at a glance
- Both Pfizer and Moderna this week announced their vaccine candidates proved to be about 95 percent effective in late-stage clinical trials.
- Pfizer is expected to apply for emergency use authorization in the coming days.
- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said it’s enough to vaccinate about 20 million of the “most vulnerable Americans.”
The United States will have tens of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine available for distribution by the end of the year, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Wednesday.
Both Pfizer and Moderna this week announced their vaccine candidates proved to be about 95 percent effective in late-stage clinical trials. Pfizer on Wednesday said it had the two months of safety data necessary to apply for an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was aiming to do so in the coming days.
“By the end of December, we expect to have about 40 million doses of these two vaccines available for distribution pending FDA authorization — enough to vaccinate about 20 million of our most vulnerable Americans,” Azar said during a news briefing. “And production of course would continue to ramp up after that.”
While the FDA still must authorize the vaccine, doses have already been manufactured for many of the vaccine candidates with the hope that one or more would be safe and effective and receive authorization.
Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines will each require two doses one month apart to ensure protection from COVID-19. Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit in an ultra-cold freezer while Moderna’s can be stored in normal refrigeration conditions for 30 days.
Pfizer said on Wednesday the efficacy rate was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnic groups. The company expects to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 worldwide and up to 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.
Health care workers and other high-risk groups will get the vaccine first starting in December. Azar has previously projected a vaccine will likely be distributed to the general public in the spring of 2021.
The positive news on the vaccine front comes as the nation’s coronavirus situation worsens.
More than 157,000 new cases and 1,200 new deaths are being reported every day across the country. Hospitalizations on Tuesday hit a single-day record, with 76,830 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to The Covid Tracking Project. More than 11.5 million total cases have been confirmed, as well as more than a quarter-million deaths.
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