By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The head of the U.S. effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine says the first immunizations could happen on Dec. 12.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee is set to meet Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer Inc.’s request for an emergency use authorization for its developing COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech recently announced that the vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the Operation Warp Speed, the coronavirus vaccine program, says plans are to ship vaccines to states within 24 hours of expected FDA approval.
Slaoui told CNN he expects vaccinations would begin on the second day after approval, Dec. 12
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— FDA allows emergency use of antibody drug thatTrump received
— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to end an England-wide virus lockdown as scheduled on Dec. 2 and will return to regional restrictions as coronavirus infections stabilize.
— Russia’s health system under strain as virus surges back
— Many ignore virus precautions at funeral of Serbian Patriarch Irinej who died after contracting the coronavirus.
—Madrid’s emblematic Rastro flea market has reopened Sunday after a contentious eight-month closure because of the pandemic.
— Black clergy join with United Way to fight COVID-19’s outsize toll on African-Americans.
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PARIS — French authorities ordered the culling of all minks in a farm after analysis showed a mutated version of the coronavirus was circulating among the animals.
The French government said in a statement Sunday that about 1,000 minks have been culled and all animal products have been eliminated in the farm located west of Paris.
France counts four mink farms on its territory. Authorities are still awaiting results for two of them. No virus has been found in the last one, the government said.
The move follows virus developments in mink farms in Denmark and other countries including the Netherlands, Sweden and Greece.
In Denmark, a mutation of the virus had been found in several people infected by minks, according to the government which ordered the cull of all 15 million minks.
So far French farmers in contact with minks have been tested negative to the virus, the French government said.
SEOUL, South Korea __ South Korea says it’ll impose stricter social distancing rules in the greater Seoul area to fight a coronavirus resurgence, as the country registered more than 300 new virus patients for a fifth consecutive day.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said Sunday the ongoing outbreak is “extremely grave and serious” as infection routes have been too diverse. He says authorities have found 62 clusters of infections over the past two weeks.
He says the toughened guidelines will begin Tuesday and go for two weeks. Under it, nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities must shut down and a late-night dining at restaurants will be banned. Customers aren’t allowed to drink or eat inside coffee shops, internet cafes or fitness centers, while sports attendance will be limited to 10% of the stadium’s capacity.
South Korea has been experiencing a spike in fresh infection since it relaxed coronavirus restrictions last month. Earlier Sunday, South Korea added 330 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national tally to 30,733 with 505 deaths.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities said Sunday that more than 600 COVID-19 cases have been detected in Sri Lanka’s highly congested prisons.
A total of 652 cases have been found in five prisons in different parts of the Indian Ocean island nation. Of them, 609 are inmates and 43 are prison officers.
Sri Lankan prisons are highly congested with more than 26,000 inmates crowded in facilities designed for 10,000.
Sri Lanka has seen a fresh outbreak of the disease since last month when two clusters — one at a garment factory and other at a fish market — emerged in the capital Colombo and it’s suburbs. Confirmed cases from the two clusters have grown to 16,251.
ISLAMABAD — Amid defiance of the directive to wear masks and avoid large public gatherings, Pakistan reported 59 more deaths and 2,665 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.
The country’s tally reached 374,173 confirmed cases. Among those being treated for the virus, 1,653 are critical.
On Saturday, tens of thousands attended the funeral of a radical cleric in the eastern city of Lahore, and on Sunday, an alliance of opposition parties holds a rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Both events ignore directives of the military-backed National Command and Operation Center, a body assigned the task of controlling the spread of the virus, for people to wear masks, maintain physical distance and avoid large gatherings.
BEIJING — Authorities are conducting mass testing and shutting down schools after China reported three new domestically transmitted cases in the past 24 hours — two in northern Inner Mongolia province and one in Shanghai.
The city of Manzhouli, in Inner Mongolia, will start testing all its residents for COVID-19 on Sunday, a day after the two cases were discovered. The city has suspended classes and shut public venues, telling residents to not gather for dinner banquets.
Local authorities in Shanghai found one more case Saturday after testing 15,416 people following recent locally transmitted cases. The city is not shutting down its schools, but has locked down specific facilities such as a hospital. It is also testing all residents in the Pudong New Area district.
China is already conducting mass testing for up to 3 million residents in the northern city of Tianjin after five cases were found there earlier in the week. The total number of confirmed cases in China is 86,431.
TOKYO — The daily tally of reported COVID-19 cases in Japan hit a record for the fourth day in a row, with 2,508 people confirmed infected, the health ministry said Sunday.
Japan has had fewer than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths so far, avoiding the toll of harder hit nations. But fears are growing about another surge. A flurry of criticism has erupted, from opposition legislators and the public, slamming the government as having acted too slowly in halting its “GoTo” campaign, which encouraged travel and dining out with discounts.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the decision Saturday. But many people had already made travel reservations for this three-day Thanksgiving weekend in Japan.
Airports and restaurants have been packed. Some said the government should have offered to pay for cancellations, or stepped up more on PCR testing instead, if the goal is to keep the economy going amid a pandemic. Tutorials are circulating online on the proper way to eat and drink at restaurants, while wearing masks.
EL PASO, Texas — The Texas National Guard has sent a 36-member team to El Paso to assist morgues in the border region with the number of dead as a result of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Statewide, the Texas health department on Saturday reported a one-day high of 12,597 new virus cases, nearly 20,500 dead since the pandemic began and more than 8,200 virus hospitalizations.
“The Texas Military will provide us with the critical personnel to carry out our fatality management plan and we are very grateful to them for their ongoing support,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said late Friday when the deployment was announced.
The pandemic is blamed for 853 deaths in El Paso County, including more than 300 since October. Jail inmates are being paid to move bodies and county leaders are offering $27 an hour for morgue workers.
County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, in a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott asking for support for a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew in the county, said mortuaries are being overwhelmed. He wrote that the local medical examiner’s office reported that 234 bodies were being held at the main morgue and nine mobile morgues.
WILMINGTON, Delaware — President-elect Joe Biden says all Americans should be able to attend religious services during the pandemic — as long as they do so safely.
Biden made the statement in response to a reporter’s shouted question as he was walking out of church Saturday evening in Delaware.
Specifically, Biden was asked whether all Americans should be able to attend religious services during the pandemic. He responded, “Yes, safely.” He did not answer a follow up question about whether indoor services should be allowed.
Some in-person church services across America have been closed as state leaders grapple with social distancing safeguards as the pandemic surges.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon has reported a record number of coronavirus cases for the second day in a row.
On Saturday, the Oregon Health Authority said there were 1,509 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, spread across all but four of the state’s 36 counties, with the majority in the Portland metro area.
Among the seven new deaths being reported Saturday, all were in their 70s or 80s, and either had or were suspected of having underlying health conditions.
The state’s total is now 63,668 confirmed coronavirus infections and 819 deaths.
BALTIMORE — More than 12 million people in the U.S have contracted the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
The nation’s total number of confirmed cases reached 12.01 million on Saturday, six days after the number had reached 11 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Daily numbers of new U.S. cases are approaching 200,000, less than three weeks after hitting 100,000 for the first time. The record of 195,542 new cases on Friday was the latest of several recent daily highs.
Deaths rates are getting closer to the dire numbers seen in the spring. The U.S. daily death toll exceeded 2,000 on Thursday, the first time since early May. On Friday, 1,878 deaths were reported.
The U.S. leads the world with more than 255,000 dead.
ROME — Italy registered 34,767 new cases on Saturday, about 2,500 fewer than the previous day.
The government recently put the majority of Italy’s regions under new restrictions, including banning dining at cafes and restaurants in areas where the health care system risked collapse.
Italy has 1.3 million total confirmed cases. With 692 more deaths, the known death toll reached 49,261.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported Saturday there were 3,162 people hospitalized with coronavirus, the most since May.
A total of 661 coronavirus patients were in intensive care units. The trend in the 14-day rolling average of hospitalized patients per day had increased by nearly 1,900 since the end of September, the department says.
Officials noted again that most of the hospitalized patients and deaths occurred among those 65 or older.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is doing “very well” in quarantine after becoming infected with the coronavirus.
A spokesman for the younger Trump says he received the positive test result earlier this week, has no symptoms and has been quarantining and following the recommended medical guidelines.
President Trump tweeted Saturday that his son “is doing very well.” Trump Jr. is the latest member of the president’s family to become infected, after the president, first lady and their son Barron.
PIERRE, South Dakota — Coronavirus infections are ravaging South Dakota, where more than half of tests have come back positive for weeks.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem won’t issue a mask mandate but suggests smaller gatherings “may be smarter this year.”
Some governors who for months echoed President Donald Trump’s criticism of measures to control the coronavirus are now relenting, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who recently ordered the use of masks statewide.
Republican and Democratic governors from several Midwestern states issued a joint video urging people to say home for Thanksgiving and wear masks to slow the spread of the virus until a vaccine is widely available.
Hospitals in many states are running out of beds and are short on nurses, including in the states where governors are reluctant to act.
“We know what will happen. We know that three to four weeks from Thanksgiving, we will see an exacerbation of the outbreaks,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.