The US prepares for the primary COVID-19 pictures when one other vaccine candidate reveals up

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A health care worker prepares sample collection tubes at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drive-through test site in Houston

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By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – U.S. officials predict they will start vaccinating Americans against the novel coronavirus from mid-December as another global pharmaceutical company revealed promising trial results for a vaccine candidate on Monday, giving hope as the pace accelerates which speeds up infections.

The leader of the U.S. Campaign to Rapidly Deliver a Vaccine that U.S. Healthcare Workers and other high-risk individuals could use to produce shots Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 within a day or two of regulatory approval next month.

"I would expect hopefully the first people in the United States to be vaccinated on the second day after approval on December 11th or 12th," said Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific advisor for Operation Warp Speed, told CNN Sunday.

With many Americans traveling before Thanksgiving Thursday, potentially increasing their risk, the United States has passed 12 million infections and the death toll has risen to over 255,000 since the pandemic began.

GRAPHIC: Where coronavirus cases rise and fall in the US – https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/USA-TRENDS/dgkvlgkrkpb/index.html

Coronavirus hospital admissions have increased nearly 50% in the past two weeks as the pace of new infections accelerated and the average number of new COVID-19 deaths in the US has risen in the 12 days.

The most recent vaccine breakthrough came on Monday when UK company AstraZeneca (NASDAQ 🙂 said its vaccine could be 90% effective with no serious side effects. The vaccine would provide the world with another vital tool against the pandemic, potentially cheaper to manufacture, easier to distribute, and faster to scale than that of its competitors.

The vaccine was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 when given in two different doses one month apart, late-stage studies showed.

The UK drug maker said it will have up to 200 million doses by the end of 2020, and 700 million doses could be available globally by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

Pfizer, who works with German partner BioNTech, says their vaccine was 95% effective against infections caused by the highly contagious respiratory virus.

Other pharmaceutical companies that are making headway include: Moderna (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc, which is expected to file for separate approval in December, and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE :), which is working on a single-dose vaccine.

In the United States, the first people to receive the Pfizer vaccine would likely be frontline doctors, nurses and rescue workers, as well as those at highest risk of serious illness and death from the virus, Slaoui said.

However, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams expressed concern that Americans who oppose science and are skeptical of vaccines could keep people from getting their thrusts.

GRAPHIC: COVID-19 Global Tracker – https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/

"I would hate it if we had a vaccine that could end this pandemic, but people don't trust it," Adams told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday.

"I'm just excited that we now have three vaccines because if you're trying to immunize the entire planet, we want to have as many different tools in our arsenal as possible," said Adams.

Adams warned Americans that Christmas celebrations "can be super-spreader events" while New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy urged people to cut back or cancel Thanksgiving plans.

"We ask people, please, God, do the right thing," Murphy told Good Morning America.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said late Sunday he would be quarantined for 14 days after exposing three of his children to a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for the virus.

(Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert, Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu, Kate Holton, Josephine Mason and Kate Kelland; editing by Bernadette Baum)

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