U.S. poised to hit 16 million COVID cases within days even as vaccine begins roll-out
By Rich McKay (Reuters) - The United States was poised to hit a record 16 million COVID-19 cases in the coming days, with deaths closing in on the 300,000 mark, even as millions of doses of a new vaccine were expected to start rolling out across the nation on Sunday. The first vaccine was approved late on Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is expected to touch off a mass-inoculation campaign of unparalleled dimension to end the pandemic that has upended daily life and devastated the U.S.
By Rich McKay
(Reuters) - The United States was poised to hit a record 16 million COVID-19 cases in the coming days, with deaths closing in on the 300,000 mark, even as millions of doses of a new vaccine were expected to start rolling out across the nation on Sunday.
The first vaccine was approved late on Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is expected to touch off a mass-inoculation campaign of unparalleled dimension to end the pandemic that has upended daily life and devastated the U.S. economy.
"FDA APPROVES PFIZER VACCINE FOR EMERGENCY USE!!!" President Donald Trump announced on Friday night on Twitter. He promised Americans the vaccinations would begin in less than 24 hours.
But U.S. Army General Gustave Perna said on a Saturday news call that the first shipments will begin on Sunday and will be delivered to 145 locations around the country on Monday.
The remainder of the 636 delivery locations selected by states and U.S. territories will receive doses on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said, adding that Pfizer will have more doses ready every week for distribution and administration.
The first batch of shots is expected to be aimed largely at health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
The approval of the Pfizer drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration marks a turning point in the United States, where the pandemic has killed more than 295,000 people - more than in any other nation in the world - as the recent surge of infections has again overwhelmed healthcare systems.
The country reported its highest daily cases, more than 232,700, on Friday, according to a Reuters tally. In the latest 7-day average, the United States is reporting 2,411 deaths per day, the highest 7-day average since the pandemic started.
U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations were 107,684 by the end of Friday, the highest so far.
On Nov. 21, the United States hit a landmark 12 million cases.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who along with several other governors vowed to review the vaccine before allowing it in their states, announced late on Friday that state officials have given the drug the green light.
"The vaccine, that is the weapon that ends the war," Cuomo said in a press briefing on Saturday.
But he warned that it might be June or later before life will start to return to normal as more of the U.S. population receives the drug.
Urging people to be patient, Cuomo said, "Between today and June, that's a long way."
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Diane Craft and Dan Grebler)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.