US Hits Record High Daily COVID Death Toll

The United States exceeded a record 17 million COVID-19 cases on Thursday, surpassing the grim milestone of 308,000 deaths. While hospitals in many parts of the country are becoming overwhelmed beyond capacity, a key team of US Food and Drug Administration health experts are meeting to review data on a vaccine developed by Moderna. The vaccine must also pass approval by the US Centers for Disease Control before distribution can be authorized for emergency use.  

The development comes as Pfizer began nationwide distribution on Monday of the first vaccine to meet US FDA and CDC approval, supplying over 400 hospitals and other priority locations with vaccine doses. Frontline health care workers and vulnerable elderly people are being prioritized to receive vaccinations first. Walgreens and CVS pharmacy companies are assisting with the vaccination shots for staff members and patients in long-term care facilities. 

The FDA panel is expected to vote Thursday afternoon on whether or not to approve the Moderna vaccine, which showed 94.1% efficacy and safety in its clinical trial results. If approved, the CDC will be conducting its review on Saturday with the hope of achieving approval for distribution rollout as soon as early next week.