Coronavirus Pandemic

Virus Updates: FDA Panel Endorses Moderna Vaccine; Pfizer Vials Hold Extra Doses

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As the United States continues to roll out the Pfizer vaccine for health care workers and nursing home residents, the country reached new records in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday with more than 230,000 new cases and 3,234 deaths reported, according to a tally by NBC News.

Meanwhile, the White House announced Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen will publicly receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to get a shot as soon as next week, NBC News reports.

The vaccine campaign is offering hope in the fight against the pandemic that has infected over 17 million and killed more than 310,000 in the U.S. alone, according to NBC News.

2nd COVID-19 Vaccine Gets FDA Panel Endorsement

A second COVID-19 vaccine moved closer to joining the U.S. fight against the pandemic Thursday as government advisers endorsed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

It's the next-to-last step for the vaccine developed by drugmaker Moderna and the National Institutes of Health. The panel of physicians and medical researchers endorsed it, which should be followed by the Food and Drug Administration's OK within hours or days.

The action would provide a boost to the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history that kicked off this week. More shipments of the first green-lighted vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, were going out Thursday, earmarked for health care workers and nursing home residents around the country.

FDA Says Pfizer Vaccine Vials May Hold Extra 'Obtainable' Doses, Adding to US Supply

The small glass vials used to transport Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine hold more than the expected five doses, potentially adding to the country's supply, NBC News reports.

The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday night that it was aware of reports that vials were yielding six and sometimes seven doses, and that it was acceptable to use all full doses from each vial. 

"At this time, given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable (the sixth, or possibly even a seventh) from each vial, pending resolution of the issue," the agency said in a tweet.

Experts say that it's common for vaccines vials to be filled beyond their labeled allotment. But, the FDA warned that it's important not to to mix any leftover vaccine that does not make up a full 0.3 milliliter.

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Debunked COVID-19 Myths Survive Online, Despite Facts

From speculation that the coronavirus was created in a lab to hoax cures, an overwhelming amount of false information clung to COVID-19 as it circled the globe in 2020.

Public health officials, fact checkers and doctors tried to quash hundreds of rumors in myriad ways. But misinformation around the pandemic has endured as vexingly as the virus itself. And with the U.S., U.K. and Canada rolling out vaccinations this month, many falsehoods are seeing a resurgence online.

A look at some of the most stubborn myths around COVID-19 that were shared this year and continue to travel:

With many Americans feeling hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, NBCLX storyteller Clark Fouraker is setting the record straight about some of the many myths circulating about the shots, including the false claim it could interfere with your own DNA.
With so much information about face masks being thrown at us every single day, it’s easy to see why some would be confused about whether they really work. In this edition of "Send This Video To," our new series debunking viral myths and conspiracy theories, NBCLX’s Fernando Hurtado unmasks the truth about face masks. After you're done watching it, send this video to the person in your life who still thinks face masks are designed to kill us rather than to keep us safer from the coronavirus.

US Jobless Claims Rise to 885,000 Amid Resurgence of Virus

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose again last week to 885,000 as a resurgence of coronavirus cases threatens the economy’s recovery from its springtime collapse.

The number of applications increased from 862,000 the previous week. It showed that nine months after the viral pandemic paralyzed the economy, many employers are still slashing jobs as the pandemic forces more business restrictions and leads many consumers to stay home.

Before the coronavirus erupted in March, weekly jobless claims had typically numbered only about 225,000. The far-higher current pace of claims reflects an employment market under stress and diminished job security for many.

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Ian McKellen Says He Feels 'Euphoric' After Receiving First Dose of Coronavirus Vaccine

British actor Sir Ian McKellen received the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in London on Wednesday. The 81-year-old actor said he was feeling "a bit euphoric" after receiving the injection.

Alaska Health Care Worker Had Severe Allergic Reaction to Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

A health care worker at the Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Alaska, developed a severe allergic reaction shortly after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday evening, and had to be hospitalized overnight, NBC News reports.

During a media briefing Wednesday, health officials said the middle-aged woman had no history of allergies and had never experienced anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.

Pfizer said in a statement that the company is "working with local health authorities to assess" the reaction that occurred in Alaska, and will "closely monitor all reports suggestive of serious allergic reactions following vaccination and update labeling language if needed."

Butler said the Alaska case is the only allergic reaction to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reported in the United States so far.

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United States Tops 17 Million COVID-19 Cases

The United States surpassed 17 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to a tally by NBC News.

With 17,038,284 cases reported since the start of the pandemic, the U.S. has the most cases of any country in the world.

Interior Secretary Bernhardt Tests Positive

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Wednesday tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesman for the department said.

Bernhardt is currently asymptomatic, spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said, adding that Bernhardt "will continue to work on behalf of the American people while in quarantine."

The Washington Post first reported that Bernhardt tested positive. The newspaper reported that Bernhardt was tested for the coronavirus before President Donald Trump held a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, and that Bernhardt did not attend that meeting.

Cash-Strapped Ambulance Services to Receive Federal Aid

Private ambulance companies will finally receive a sizable sum of federal aid after riding along the edge of a fiscal cliff since the beginning of the pandemic, putting the nation's ability to respond to 911 calls at risk, NBC News reports.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that it would provide $24.5 billion to more than 70,000 health care providers nationwide, including $1.48 billion for cash-strapped ambulance services as the nation faces another surge in coronavirus cases.

The HHS funding comes mere weeks after NBC News first reported that the American Ambulance Association sent a letter to HHS warning “the 911 emergency medical system throughout the United States is at a breaking point. Without additional relief, it seems likely to break, even as we enter the third surge of the virus in the Mid-West and the West.”

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