By MORGAN WINSOR, ERIN SCHUMAKER, IVAN PEREIRA and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 65.5 million people and killed over 1.5 million worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Here’s how the news is developing Friday. All times Eastern:
Dec 04, 1:55 pm
Pence says US is maybe ‘a week and a half away’ from vaccine approval
At a roundtable discussion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Director Robert Redfield said he’s “optimistic that the FDA will get authorized vaccines within the next several weeks and distribution work can begin.”
Vice President Mike Pence, who joined him at the meeting, added, “We are maybe, Bob, just a week and a half away from what will be the likely approval of the first coronavirus vaccine.”
Pence added, “Within 48 hours from the FDA approval, we could be vaccinating people literally in all 50 states and territories all across the country.”
Pence said that a vaccine won’t likely be available for every American until “spring or early summer.”
-ABC News’ Elizabeth Thomas
Dec 04, 1:00 pm
Virus ‘has entered a phase of high-level transmission’ in US: CDC
A new CDC report is warning that the virus “has entered a phase of high-level transmission” in the U.S. and that it’s more important than ever to follow public health guidelines.
On Oct. 30, the number of new cases reported in the U.S. in a single day exceeded 100,000 for the first time, and by Dec. 2, the daily case number had nearly doubled, with over 196,000 new daily cases, the report said.
“With colder weather, more time spent indoors, the ongoing U.S. holiday season, and silent spread of disease, with approximately 50% of transmission from asymptomatic persons, the United States has entered a phase of high-level transmission where a multipronged approach to implementing all evidence-based public health strategies at both the individual and community levels is essential,” the report said.
The report summarizes these strategies to combat COVID-19: universal face mask use, physical distancing, avoiding nonessential indoor space, increasing testing, prompt quarantine of exposed persons, safeguarding those at increased risk for severe illness or death, protecting essential workers, postponing travel, enhancing ventilation, hand hygiene and achieving widespread COVID-19 vaccination coverage.
-ABC News’ Sony Salzman
Dec 04, 11:16 am
COVID-19 appears to be 3rd leading cause of death in US
COVID-19 will probably be ranked at least third for leading causes of death in the U.S. this year, Bob Anderson, Chief, Mortality Statistics Branch at National Center for Health Statistics, told ABC News.
“We won’t make that determination officially until all the data are in,” Anderson added.
The No. 1 cause of death is heart disease, with 655,381 deaths, followed by cancer with 599,274 deaths, according to CDC data.
COVID-19 is in the No. 3 spot with 276,513 fatalities, followed by accidents which accounted for 167,127 deaths, according to the CDC.
Dec 04, 10:09 am
Africa aims to vaccinate 60% of population in 2-3 years
Africa aims to have 60% of its 1.2 billion-strong population vaccinated against COVID-19 within the next two to three years, according to the head of the continent’s public health agency.
“We hope that for that for this to be meaningful, our 60% must be reached in the next two to three years,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a press briefing Thursday. “We should be deliberate in this.”
More than 2.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including over 52,000 deaths, have been reported across the vast continent so far, representing a fraction of the world’s cumulative count.
Dec 04, 8:59 am
Moscow launches mass COVID-19 vaccination program
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced Friday the official start of a mass COVID-19 vaccination program in the Russian capital.
Residents are now able to sign up online to be vaccinated, and Sobyanin said some 5,000 people had registered in the first five hours since the launch.
“Teachers, doctors, social workers, those who today most of all risk their health and lives,” the mayor wrote in a brief post on his blog Friday.
The announcement comes two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly ordered large-scale vaccination to start next week, despite earlier statements from the government saying the country has yet to produce enough vaccine doses to do so.
The mass inoculation campaigns will use Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V, which the health ministry controversially registered in August before starting crucial late-stage clinical trials. Vaccinations will be voluntary, with the drives first focusing on teachers and doctors.
Russia was still vaccinating volunteers as part of its phase 3 trial, which has so far only managed to inoculate 20,000 of a planned 40,000 people.
Putin has said that Russia will soon produce two million doses of Sputnik V, but it’s unclear how many doses have been been produced so far and how many people will be able to be vaccinated next week. The country has run into serious manufacturing hurdles and had to significantly cut its planned production from 30 million to two million by the end of the year.
Dec 04, 7:31 am
COVID-19 vaccinations will be free of charge in France
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said COVID-19 vaccinations will not be made compulsory but “will be free for all” in the country’s social security system.
“Getting a vaccine is also about protecting others. It is a choice of trust, we must be as numerous as possible to get a vaccine,” Castex said at a press conference Thursday evening, while unveiling the country’s vaccination strategy.
France will launch a COVID-19 vaccination campaign within weeks, pending regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency. The program will run throughout 2021, staggered over three categories of people.
The first phase is slated to begin in January, with vaccines administered to nursing home residents and staff, representing one million people. A second phase starting in February will see 14 million people inoculated, based on age and medical criteria. The third and final phase, beginning in March, will target the remainder of the population who wish to be vaccinated.
Through deals clinched by the European Union, France has secured some 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from several pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms that developed them and have applied for temporary authorization. Castex said that’s enough doses to inoculate 100 million people — more than France’s entire population.
As of Friday afternoon, France’s health ministry had confirmed a total of 2,257,331 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 54,140 deaths.
Dec 04, 5:18 am
Italy reports nearly 1,000 new deaths in all-time high
An additional 993 deaths from COVID-19 were registered in Italy on Thursday, marking a new all-time high, according to data from the country’s civil protection agency.
Italy’s previous single-day record of 969 new fatalities from the disease was set in late March, when the country was the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe.
The Italian civil protection agency also reported 23,225 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 31,772 patients currently hospitalized with the disease, including 3,597 in intensive care.
Since the start of the pandemic, Italy has confirmed more than 1,664,829 million cases, including at least 58,038 deaths, according to the civil protection agency.
The country has the eighth highest case load in the world, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Dec 04, 4:17 am
US has worst day yet with record number of new cases and deaths
There were 217,664 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,879 additional deaths from the disease registered in the United States on Thursday, both numbers which shattered the country’s previous daily records, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It’s the most new cases and deaths the U.S. has recorded in a single day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the 31st straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections, and the third time since the pandemic began that the daily figure has topped 200,000, according to Johns Hopkins data.
COVID-19 data may be skewed in the coming days and weeks due to possible lags in reporting over Thanksgiving followed by a potentially very large backlog from the holiday.
A total of 14,143,801 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 276,366 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up over the summer.
The numbers lingered around 40,000 to 50,000 from mid-August through early October before surging again to record levels, crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4 and reaching 200,000 for the first time on Nov. 27.
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