Death Toll Surpasses 1.5 Million
Dear Rich Lifer,
U.S. COVID-19 cases hit a record high on Thursday with 217,664 new cases reported, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The COVID Tracking project reported another record high in hospitalizations, with 100,667 people in the U.S. admitted as of Thursday.
This news comes in as the global death toll surpasses 1.5 million, including more than 276,000 Americans.
This news is obviously grim. It’s a stark reminder that we need to continue to practice health safety measures.
In fact, President-Elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday night that he would ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.
Biden has also asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to remain in his role and to serve as a chief medical officer in his administration and as part of his coronavirus response team.
With all these staggering statistics painting a pretty dark picture, we wanted to update you on something slightly more optimistic — the future of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization of their coronavirus vaccine — they have already been approved for emergency use in the U.K. Moderna is also close to making the same ask, and there are 200 other vaccines in development around the world that may soon follow suit.
If all goes according to plan, we could be seeing rollouts of a vaccine this month.
Today we will answer some pressing questions about these vaccines and when you can expect them to get to you.
Who Approves the Vaccine?
As we mentioned briefly above, the FDA determines whether or not to authorize a vaccine for use. It appears that decisions will come this month regarding both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.
As part of their review, FDA scientists are expected to look at data from individual patients, paying particular attention to any indications of troubling side effects.
Then the FDA will meet with an independent panel of doctors from major American academic centers who will advise the FDA on the efficacy of the given vaccine.
Based on the review of the data and the advice of doctors, the FDA will then determine whether to authorize “emergency use” — a quicker version of a normal FDA approval.
Who Will Get the Vaccine First?
An advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — voted this past Tuesday that health-care workers and long-term care facility residents would get the first coronavirus vaccine doses once it’s cleared for public use.
The committee defined health-care workers as paid and unpaid people serving in health-care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.
The committee defined long-term care facility residents as adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.
However, states do not necessarily have to follow the CDC’s guidelines, and it will ultimately be up to the governors of each state to decide who will be vaccinated first.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said most states and local jurisdictions expect it to take three weeks to vaccinate all of their health-care workers.
The committee determined there are roughly 21 million health-care workers and 3 million long-term care facility residents in the U.S.
So this leads us to our next question…
How Many Doses Will Initially Be Available?
Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, told CNBC on November 16 that about 40 million doses of the vaccine will be available by the end of this year.
This is enough to vaccinate about 20 million people since the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two shots.
This past Tuesday, Trump’s vaccine chief Moncef Slaoui said the entire U.S. population of 331 million could be vaccinated against Covid-19 by June 2021.
This number is apparently based on the estimate that each of the six pharmaceutical companies working with Operation Warp Speed will be able to manufacture between 500 million and 1 billion doses by the end of 2021.
Azar maintains that there should be enough vaccines by the second quarter of 2021 so that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. Other federal health officials have said in the spring or summer.
How Will The Vaccine Be Distributed?
The federal government has a contract with McKesson Corp. to be a centralized distributor of COVID-19 vaccines.
The only vaccine McKesson will not handle is the Pfizer vaccine, which has its own distribution network designed specially to ship and store the vaccine in special reusable containers that can maintain the vaccine’s extremely cool temperature.
Federal health officials say initial doses will be shipped within 24 hours of any FDA authorization, and immunizations could begin within about 48 hours.
Others are not as optimistic about the timeline and say it will take longer than 48 hours to actually begin vaccinations.
Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, states, “Many providers are going to need a few days to get it up and running, if not a week.” This may be due to hospital workers and others administering the vaccine getting used to procedures for opening specialized, temperature-controlled boxes of vaccine vials and learning the risks and benefits of the shots.
Along with the vaccine itself, McKesson will also receive and distribute package kits of medical supplies needed to administer the Covid-19 vaccine, such as needles and syringes and alcohol prep pads.
The vials of the doses and the kits will be sent to doctor’s offices, pharmacies and other facilities at a minimum of 100 doses per order, according to the CDC.
We hope that with this news in mind, we can all continue to keep each other safe this winter by maintaining safety and social distance measures.
Until there are enough doses for every person to get vaccinated, we have to continue to take the proper precautions to keep ourselves and others safe from coronavirus.
That day will come soon.
To a Richer Life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team