On Thursday, a top coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden issued a stern holiday message to Americans, “no Christmas parties” and warned that, despite the recent steps towards U.S. government approval of a vaccine, they face a COVID-19 siege for weeks to come.
“There is not a safe Christmas party in this country right now,” he said.
Osterholm emphasized that it will be several months before the nation sees widespread vaccine availability, the first of which on Thursday cleared a crucial U.S. regulatory hurdle.
“The next three to six weeks at minimum … are our COVID-19 weeks,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, a member of Biden’s coronavirus advisory board, told CNN. “It won’t end after that, but that is the period right now where we could have a surge upon a surge upon a surge.”
A panel of United States external advisors The Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to recommend that a vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc and its German partner, BioNTech SE, be approved for emergency use as the U.S. prepares for weeks of increasing coronavirus cases.
FDA approval is expected within days, paving the way for a mass inoculation program to be initiated as early as next week, unprecedented in U.S. history. The advisory panel is set to review Moderna Inc’s second vaccine next week.
Health officials have expressed outrage that over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, millions of Americans disregarded urgent calls to curtail travel and social events, even though the pandemic was still raging unchecked.
Delivery giants United Parcel Service and FedEx Corp are standing by to distribute millions of doses under contract with the federal government to distribution staging areas, giving the vaccines top priority.
Pfizer vaccines need to be stored in ultra-cold freezer units and must be ready for injection and rapidly administered once thawed, posing special challenges to medical authorities.
It takes only six hours for the vaccines to be used. Dr. Stephen Dohi, the chief pharmacist at the Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, said as he stood beside the hospital’s newly purchased ultralow freezer.
Dr. Michael Osterholm urged Americans to do their utmost to slow the infection by limiting members of their immediate households to social interactions and above all, “no Christmas parties.
The regular toll of COVID-19 fatalities in the United States exceeded 3,000 for the first time on Wednesday, rising to 3,253 fatalities.
As of Thursday night, a record 106,878 individuals were infected with the extremely infectious respiratory virus, up at least 18 percent over the past two weeks.