The US on Wednesday suffered its highest daily coronavirus death toll with 3,580 lives lost. The record-breaking number comes as the country gets ready to ship 5.9 million doses of a new coronavirus vaccine from Moderna that has just gotten endorsement from the Food and Drug Administration panel.
US hospitalizations rose for the 19th straight day, heightening the stakes of green-lighting the emergency use authorization for the vaccine developed by Moderna.
At the moment, the US has distributed and starting immunization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Another 232,255 cases were reported on Wednesday, the second highest daily case on record, according to a Reuters tally.
US has the highest number of cases, with more than 17million infections already. Many Americans, including US President Donald Trump and his administration, have resisted calls by health authorities to stay at home, wear masks and avoid close contact.
New coronavirus vaccine
The FDA committee voted 20-0 with one absentation that the benefits of the Moderna vaccine outweigh its risks in people aged 18 and older. The decision comes a week after the same panel backed the Pfizer vaccine.
FDA is expected to grant the emergency use authorization (EUA) Thursday or Friday. This gives another ray of hope to a country that has greatly suffered from the pandemic. Aside from growing number of cases and coronavirus-related deaths, record number of patients also threaten to overwhelm US hospitals and healthcare workers.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC on Thursday that 5.9 million doses of Moderna vaccine have been allotted for states and large cities, and are ready to be shipped nationwide as soon as FDA gives the EUA.
Unlike Pfizer’s vaccine, which requires complex storage and distribution, the Moderna vaccine does not require specialized ultra-cold freezers or vast quantities of dry ice, making it easier to supply rural and remote areas.
US officials have said they expect to have 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines by the end of the year – enough to inoculate 20 million people. Both vaccines were about 95 per cent effective at preventing illness in pivotal clinical trials with no serious safety issues.