President Donald Trump said late on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine that the first shot would be administered in the United States in less than 24 hours.
At the same time, U.S. health authorities, shipping services and hospitals stood ready to immediately launch a mass-inoculation campaign of unparalleled dimension.
Last-minute preparations for the vaccine rollout came as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic approached 300,000 to date, capping weeks of ominously surging infections and hospitalizations that have strained healthcare systems to their limits.
Another 2,902 U.S. deaths were reported on Thursday, a day after a record 3,253, a pace projected to continue over the next two to three months even as distribution of available vaccine supplies ramps up.
The first shots are expected to be administered within days, spearheading an effort widely seen as pivotal in ultimately vanquishing a pandemic that has upended daily life in the United States and devastated its economy. President Donald Trump said on Friday night that vaccinations would begin in less than 24 hours.
Moving with unprecedented speed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday approved emergency use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc with its German partner BioNTech.
Britain, Bahrain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico have already approved the Pfizer vaccine, and the U.S. advisory panel is due to review a second vaccine, from Moderna Inc, next week.
Other vaccine candidates are in the works as the United States gears up for a campaign evocative of the polio inoculations for children during the 1950s and 1960s.
Delivery companies United Parcel Service and FedEx Corp stood ready to ship millions of doses across the country, giving top priority to the vaccines over other packages on their airplanes and trucks.
Plans call for U.S. marshals to provide security for vaccine shipments from manufacturing facilities to distribution sites, including acting as escorts for delivery trucks.
New York City officials announced plans to open a vaccine command center across the street from City Hall on Monday to coordinate distribution throughout the nation’s largest city. Particular attention will be paid to 27 hard-hit neighborhoods largely populated by ethnic minorities, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“This is unprecedented because it’s not just about logistics, it’s about making sure we win public trust, it’s about ensuring equity,” de Blasio told a news briefing.
New York state expects to receive 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine the week of Dec. 21, on top of the 170,000 Pfizer doses coming this weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo told a news conference.