Pfizer, BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine grabs emergency FDA OK

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Just over 24 hours after an FDA advisory panel recommended emergency use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, the agency followed through, authorizing the first coronavirus pandemic shot for emergency use in the U.S.

The FDA had planned to authorize the vaccine on Saturday, but moved the timeline up after pressure from the White House.

Nearly 1,400 Americans died Sunday, pushing the U.S. total since the start of the pandemic to 299,191, according to a running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The United States averaged 2,400 daily deaths last week, surpassing the 3,000 marks twice for the first time.

Death totals are usually lower on Mondays, reflecting delays in collecting data during weekends.

Meanwhile, 190,000 new infections were confirmed on Sunday, down from Friday’s all-time high of 232,000 but still well above the two-week average of 166,000, according to health news website Stat.

The latest figures boosted the total U.S. caseload since March to 16.25 million, the Johns Hopkins data showed.

The number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 set a new record for the 17th consecutive day, rising to 109,000, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Amid the worsening pandemic, the first vials of a vaccine made by U.S. pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech arrived at healthcare facilities across the country.

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