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Vaccines are on the way, but who should get them first? The Morning Rundown

The U.S. is getting closer to approving of Pfizer's experimental vaccine for general use. But a thorny question remains: who should get it?
Image: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
Mock vials of the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19 are shown during a staff vaccine training session at UW Health in Madison, Wis., on Wednesday.John Maniaci/UW health / via Reuters file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Today, NBC News is devoting its homepage to a special collection of reports that show the looming pain of the coronavirus pandemic and the paths that could lead the country out of it.

Before the year-end holidays begin, providing the easiest possible transmission of the virus, these reports are a last-minute attempt to highlight an urgent truth: We can still turn the tide of the pandemic.

Here is what's happening this Friday morning.


As U.S. vaccine approval gets nearer, debate intensifies over who should get it first

A nurse holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London on Wednesday.Frank Augstein / Pool via AP

The U.S. came one step closer to protecting people against Covid-19 on Thursday after a panel of experts overwhelmingly recommended the approval of Pfizer's experimental vaccine for general use.

But a thorny question remains: who should get it?

Front-line health workers and nursing home residents and staff members expected to get the initial doses — but after that, manufacturers, grocers, bank tellers, dentists and drive-share companies have all made the case for their staff to be next in line.

Mitchel Rothholz, of the American Pharmacists Association, said, "Everybody wishes there was enough supply for everyone right out of the gate, but that's not the situation."

Meanwhile in Washington D.C., negotiations over a Covid-19 relief package are again stalled, with Democrats and Republicans divided over the scope and size of a possible deal.

There were 3,110 Covid deaths reported across the U.S. on Thursday, a new one-day record.

Follow our live blog for all the latest Covid-19 developments.


Pennsylvania blasts Texas' attempt to overturn presidential election results

Texas' bid to invalidate a string of President-elect Joe Biden's election wins was described as a "seditious abuse of the judicial process" by Pennsylvania, one of four battleground states targeted.

More than two dozen states filed motions with the Supreme Court on Thursday opposing the motion.

"Overturning Pennsylvania’s election results is contrary to any metric of fairness and would do nothing less than deny the fundamental right to vote to millions of Pennsylvania’s citizens," the state's Democratic attorney general, Josh Shapiro, wrote in response.

In a long-shot move, Texas GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton is bidding to toss out presidential election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan.

Read more here.

President Donald Trump holds a campaign event for Republican U.S. senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Valdosta, Ga., on Dec. 5, 2020.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file

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Plus

  • Brandon Bernard, who was 18 when he took part in a 1999 double murder, was killed by lethal injection Thursday, despite eleventh-hour attempts for court intervention.
  • President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2020.
  • Disney unveiled a roster of over 50 new shows and movies for its Disney+ platform, including several set in the "Star Wars" and Marvel universes.

THINK about it

Female extremists in QAnon and ISIS are on the rise and we need a new strategy to combat them, according to a trio of foreign affairs and terrorism experts in this opinion piece.


Live BETTER

This holiday season is going to look a lot different — so here are 5 fun ways to connect with friends and family remotely.


Shopping

Shopping for a gift for a co-worker? Here are tips on how to find something respectful, appropriate and interesting.


Quote of the day

"I'm sorry. That's the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day."

— Brandon Bernard, who was killed by lethal injection at a federal prison Thursday for his part in a 1999 double murder.


One weird thing

You might expect to see alligators eating other animals — but what about a bird not just eating but swallowing a whole alligator?

That's exactly what wildlife photographer Shellie Gilliam saw at a lake northwest of Orlando, Florida.

The adult great blue heron caught the juvenile alligator and flew with it to the lakeside location where Gilliam filmed it.

"Yes, A bird can eat an alligator! If it's savage enough!" Gilliam wrote on Facebook, adding that it took a half hour for the heron to devour the gator.


I’m filling in for Petra Cahill while she has a few days off. If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send me an email at: patrick.smith@nbcuni.com.

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Thanks, Patrick Smith