First U.S. shots in COVID-19 vaccine campaign coming Monday, Army general says

By Michael Erman (Reuters) - The first U.S.

Reuters December 13, 2020 01:10:09 IST
First U.S. shots in COVID-19 vaccine campaign coming Monday, Army general says

First US shots in COVID19 vaccine campaign coming Monday Army general says

By Michael Erman

(Reuters) - The first U.S. shots of a newly authorized COVID-19 vaccine will be administered as early as Monday morning, with Pfizer Inc and partners aiming to start shipping on Sunday, a U.S. general organizing the rollout said.

Doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and partner BioNTech, which was authorized for use by U.S. regulators Friday, will be delivered to 145 locations around the country on Monday, said U.S. Army General Gustave Perna on a Saturday press call.

The remainder of the 636 delivery locations selected by U.S. states and territories will receive doses on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.

With distribution imminent, top regulators sought to reassure Americans that the record fast pace was warranted and had not sacrificed safety.

"We worked quickly based on the urgency of this pandemic, not because of any other external pressure," U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said during a press conference earlier in the day.

The United States on Friday evening granted an emergency use authorization for the vaccine for people aged 16 and older. The immunization was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a late-stage trial.

It is the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the United States, where the pandemic has killed more than 295,000 people. Britain, Canada and three other countries have already authorized the shot from U.S.-based Pfizer and German partner BioNTech.

The Trump administration has poured billions of dollars into developing vaccines and will manage the distribution and allocation to states. The first 2.9 million doses are expected to roll out of Pfizer plants in the coming days, with more shipments each week.

Healthcare workers and elderly people in long-term care facilities are expected to be the main recipients of the first wave of shots in December, with more U.S. residents becoming eligible in January. Authorities have said general availability of the vaccine is expected by April.

(Reporting by Michael Erman in New York, additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani in Washington; Writing by Caroline Humer; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Peter Henderson and Tom Brown)

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