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Anna Burns-Francis: US Covid-19 vaccine and Supreme Court rejects Trump lawsuit - Politics Central

Politics Central

 US Covid-19 hospitalizations hit a record high for the seventh day in a row Saturday with 108,487 patients in hospitals around the country, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
And the number of Covid-19 cases reported in the United States reached more than 16 million after the country added 1 million cases in just four days, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
It took the nation more than eight months to reach 8 million cases but less than two months to double that, as the number of new cases continues to soar.
The record hospitalizations come as a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee voted Saturday to recommend the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for patients 16 and older.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield must accept the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' (ACIP) recommendation before vaccinations can begin. That is expected to happen within hours.
The vaccine couldn't come at a more dire moment.
On Friday, as the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use, the US recorded more than 3,300 Covid-19 deaths -- the most ever in one day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 231,700 new cases were reported, another pandemic high.
There have been more than 100,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals every day since December 2.
Dr. Peter Szilagyi, a pediatrician at the University of California Los Angeles and a member of the CDC's advisory committee, said he voted in favor of the vaccine "because of the clear evidence of its efficacy/safety profile and benefit/risk profile, based on our evidence and policy framework."
"I know we're going to have very tough and hard times ahead because of the surge and a limited vaccine supply," Szilagyi said immediately following the committee's vote. "But I am really hopeful that this is the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic."
Vaccines will be delivered to 145 facilities on Monday
The emergency use authorization (EUA) is a "significant milestone," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement Friday. He said it comes after an "open and transparent review process that included input from independent scientific and public health experts and a thorough evaluation by the agency's career scientists."
An EUA stops short of a full approval. Pfizer would have to file a separate application for its vaccine to be fully licensed by the FDA.
But the EUA "holds the promise to alter the course of this pandemic in the United States," said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Once the vaccines leave Pfizer's Kalamazoo facility, they'll be bound for 636 locations across the country, Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of the federal government's vaccine initiative Operation Warp Speed, said in a news conference Saturday.
"We expect 145 sites across all the states to receive the vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites on Wednesday, which will complete the initial delivery of the Pfizer orders for the vaccine," Perna added.
But it will be months before most Americans will get one. Advisers to the CDC have recommended health care workers and long-term care facility residents be first in line.
In a news conference Saturday morning, Hahn praised FDA scientists working around the clock to review the vaccine.
"I will absolutely take this Covid-19 vaccine pending availability and distribution," he said, "because I have complete trust and confidence in the FDA's career staff's evaluation."
"Science and data guided the FDA's decision," he said.
That said, the FDA's "work evaluating the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine does not end with this authorization," Hahn told reporters.
Additional review is needed, and a full approval is not expected for months.
Of course, Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine is just one of those in development. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told ABC News on Friday that about...
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