The U.K. on Wednesday approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use, clearing the way for distribution to begin next week. Medical workers and older adults in extended-care homes are expected to be the first in line for the shots, mirroring a plan set out by the CDC on Tuesday for those in the U.S. would receive an approved vaccine first. The White House has been concerned about the pace of approvals from the FDA, summoning Chief Stephen Hahn for a meeting Tuesday.
Here are some of today's biggest developments:
The following data was compiled by Johns Hopkins University:
- Global cases: More than 64.3 million
- Global deaths: At least 1.48 million
- U.S. cases: More than 13.86 million
- U.S. deaths: At least 272,552
Obama will take vaccine, might film to build confidence
Former President Barack Obama said that he will take a Covid-19 vaccine once one is available and may film it to build confidence about safety.
"I will be taking it and I may take it on TV or have it filmed so people know that I trust this science," he told SiriusXM's "The Joe Madison Show" during an interview. "What I don't trust is getting Covid."
Numerous polls find many Americans are skeptical about getting a Covid-19 vaccine, potentially jeopardizing U.S. vaccination efforts to control the pandemic.
The reluctance or refusal to get vaccinated has been a growing problem in the U.S. long before the pandemic started. Medical experts point to a long-debunked study published by British researchers in 1998 linking measles vaccines to autism in children.
During the interview, Obama also mentioned the Tuskegee study, in which Black men with syphilis were not offered treatment for decades after penicillin became available in the 1940s so that government researchers could study the long-term effects of the disease.
—Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
NFL considering playoff training camps if Covid-19 cases continue to rise
The National Football League could implement training camp-like playoffs to finish the 2020 season if Covid-19 cases in the league continue to rise. The plan would require playoff teams to remain in-market, but sequestered at team hotels, league sources told CNBC.
The NFL has resisted establishing a full bubble-like environment, like the NBA, out of concern for players' and participants' mental health. League officials are leaning on data from August when, zero players tested positive for Covid-19 while in training camps, to bolster the playoff plan.
The NFL released its latest Covid-19 testing results on Wednesday, reporting 86 new cases between Nov. 22 and Nov. 28. The league said 156 players and 270 additional personnel have tested positive for Covid-19 since it started testing in August.
U.S. should be able to immunize 100 million people by end of February, Slaoui says
President Donald Trump's Covid-19 vaccine czar said the U.S. should be able to immunize 100 million Americans by the end of February.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is leading the Trump administration's vaccine program Operation Warp Speed, said there is a chance the U.S. could immunize even more people if Johnson & Johnson's potential vaccine is authorized by then. Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines are expected to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use sometime this month.
Slaoui's comments came a day after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel voted 13-1 to prioritize the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine to health-care workers and long-term care facility residents. Initial doses will be limited as manufacturing ramps up, with top U.S. health officials predicting it will take months to immunize everyone who wants to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United States.
–Berkeley Lovelace Jr.
CDC director warns of 'most difficult' months ahead
The next few months of the Covid-19 pandemic will be among "the most difficult in the public health history of this nation," Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.
Redfield, speaking at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that about 90% of hospitals in the country are in "hot zones and the red zones." He added that 90% of long-term care facilities are in areas with a high level of spread.
"So we are at a very critical time right now about being able to maintain the resilience of our health-care system," Redfield said. "The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that's going to be put on our health-care system."
AstraZeneca U.S. vaccine results likely to come in late January
The British drugmaker, which is developing the drug alongside Oxford University, published interim efficacy results from a UK trial in November, but U.S. trials were paused for several weeks after an adverse event in a participant.
"I still expect that somewhere in January maybe, more towards the second half of January, data will become available and potentially an emergency use authorization could be filed," Slaoui said.
Rhode Island health network moves some Covid patients to field hospital
Rhode Island-based Lifespan has moved some of its coronavirus patients to a field hospital after it reached capacity at its traditional health facilities, according to CEO Dr. Timothy Babineau.
"We have plenty of ICU capacity. We have plenty of ventilator capacity. However, our regular med surge beds are full," Babineau said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "Unfortunately, Rhode Island is headed in the wrong direction."
Hospitalizations in Rhode Island are at a record high, according to a CNBC analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project, which is run by The Atlantic magazine.
Babineau also raised concerns about the wellbeing of health-care workers as the pandemic drags on: "One of our biggest concerns, one of our biggest priorities, is adequate staffing and making sure that our staff are protected, that they have what they need."
New York Gov. Cuomo expects first delivery of Covid-19 vaccine by Dec. 15
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned the latest coronavirus spike could last through January. But as the state does what it can to prepare and deal with rising cases, vaccines are on their way.
Cuomo said he expects New York to get its first delivery of Covid-19 vaccine doses by Dec. 15 — with enough to innoculate 170,000 people.
In New York, about 1 of every 134 residents tested positive for Covid-19 in November, which is about triple that of the month before, NBC New York reports.
Even with vaccines approved, WHO says more work is ahead with production, distribution and pricing
Developing and approving a vaccine is like arriving at base camp on Mount Everest, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, said.
"We still have to climb the mountain," he said during a live-streamed Q&A session from the agency's headquarters.