The fight against Covid-19 received a major shot in the arm on Friday as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) to a second vaccine against the deadly coronavirus disease.
The Covid-19 vaccine has been authorised for use on people aged 18 years and older, and has joined Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, already being administered since Monday, on the front lines of the battle against the virus.
“There is much we still do not know about Sars-CoV-2 and Covid-19,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most respected voice in the US on the pandemic and the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). “However, we do know that this vaccine is safe and can prevent symptomatic Covid-19 and severe disease.”
The US regulator granted EUA to the vaccine a day after an advisory board of outside experts had cleared it. Its distribution awaits one more clearance, from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is expected shortly.
The country on Friday set yet another grim record by registering 249,709 new coronavirus cases, the highest recorded single-day spike in infections since the pandemic began, based on an update by the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Also, the CNN reported that a total of 2,814 people have succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours.
British PM announces new Covid restrictions
Rapid transmission of a newly-discovered variant of Covid-19 in London and nearby areas prompted UK PM Boris Johnson on Saturday to put the capital under tight restrictions, as he cancelled relaxations allowed for Christmas.
The “new variant”, Johnson said, was no less lethal than the original version and there is no evidence that a vaccine is less effective against it; but he added that there is much that is not known about it. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been informed of the development. Johnson announced the creation of a new tier – Tier 4 – in the Covid-19 alert system under which towns and areas in England are placed.
Italy, too, will be placed under a nationwide lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Year holiday, PM Giuseppe Conte said on Friday.