US starts administering Pfizer vaccines today as Covid deaths hit 300,000

The United States will today begin administering Pfizer coronavirus vaccines as Covid deaths across the country nudge 300,000. Pfizer’s vaccine has been shipped to all 40 states with hospital staff and vulnerable care home residents set to be the first to receive it from Monday.

Five of the first vaccinations will be administered at a ceremonial ‘kickoff event’ at George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC on Monday afternoon, although many patients will already have received the shot in private before the photo opportunity takes place.

Pharamacists at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, were given a ‘thumbs up’ by one FedEx driver has he delivered a crate of the hotly-anticipated shot on Monday morning. Boston Medical Center also reported receiving its first doses of the vaccine around the same time.

Speaking on CNBC on Monday, Pfizer CEO Albert Boula said the company had already manufactured most of the 50 million vaccine doses lined-up for distribution for the remainder of the year. He said a further 1.3billion doses of the vaccine will be made next year.

Boula’s words were given added urgency by Johns Hopkins University figures showed 299,191 Americans have so-far been killed by Covid. Daily deaths in the US hit a record 3,157 on December 9, according to The New York Times, with total fatalities almost certain to pass 300,000 later on Monday.

The United States also saw a record 280,514 Covid diagnoses on December 9 – the worst one-day toll since the pandemic began, with more than 100,000 new cases recorded for the last 41 days in a row.

Two large trucks carrying the first doses of the shot left Pfizer’s factory in Portage, Michigan, on Sunday, with FedEx planes and trucks subsequently transporting them across the country.

Locals gathered to take photos of the vaccines leaving, and cheered the drivers as they drove off.

Those vaccines will arrive at 145 distribution centers on Monday, with a further 425 sites receiving shipments on Tuesday, and 66 deliveries scheduled for Wednesday.

At least one hospital that expected to receive the vaccine on Monday – Tufts Medical Center in Boston – has already seen its arrival delayed until Tuesday.

Pfizer’s vaccine, manufactured in partnership with German company BioNTech, must be transported at -94f (-70c), with dry ice used to keep it cold it transit.

Patients will receive an initial shot of the vaccine, followed by a ‘booster’ shot 28 days later, with side effects including temporary, flu-like symptoms.

A rival shot manufactured by Massachusetts-based Moderna is likely to be given emergency approval in the coming days, with other manufacturers’ vaccines set to follow in the coming weeks.

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