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Dec. 2 Coronavirus updates: U.S. reports largest number of deaths since June

December 2 news about the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. reported 2,380 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the country's largest number since June 26.
Image: Christmas lights are reflected on a ballon as a child wears a face mask to protect against coronavirus at the Johannesburg Zoo's Festival of Lights
Christmas lights are reflected on a balloon as a child wears a face mask at the Johannesburg Zoo's Festival of Lights on Tuesday in South Africa.Denis Farrell / AP

Coverage on this blog has ended, please click here for NBC News' latest coverage of Covid-19.

The United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first country to formally approve the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, a huge symbolic milestone in the fight against the pandemic.

The vaccine has been authorized far quicker than any other in history, its lightning development outpacing the 15-20 years it usually takes to develop these types of medicines.

The first inoculations are set to be rolled out next week, the government said.

White House hosting indoor holiday parties despite warnings from top health officials

The White House is planning to host as many as 20 indoor holiday parties this season, even as its own coronavirus task force warns states that the pandemic is "in a very dangerous place" and top health officials have cautioned against indoor celebrations.

One such party was held Tuesday night and included a brief appearance by President Donald Trump. Pictures from the event show several attendees not wearing masks, including Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel. 

Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's chief of staff, said in a statement on Wednesday that the White House would “celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah while providing the safest environment possible."

Among the safety measures that Grisham said would be in place were smaller guest lists and mask requirements, with social distancing also "encouraged." Photos from Tuesday's event, however, showed a crowded party with no social distancing and a number of guests without masks.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany shrugged off the concerns that the gatherings could set a bad example for Americans as they head into the holiday season.

"If you can loot businesses, burn down buildings, engage in protests, you can also go to a Christmas party. You can celebrate the holiday of Christmas, and you can do it responsibly," she told reporters. "We will engage in the celebration of Christmas."

The NFL says it won’t get early access to Covid-19 vaccines

The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said Wednesday the league won’t try to “cut the line” in getting access to a Covid-19 vaccine before it’s publicly available, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Ian Rapoport. 

The NFL, which opted not to adopt a bubble model in its efforts to resume play and limit the spread of Covid-19, has faced several setbacks this season. It hasn’t had to cancel a 2020 regular season game yet but has been forced to postpone and reschedule several games, including the Week 12 matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, which has been postponed three times because of positive coronavirus cases.

Police eject hundreds from Long Island house party

Hundreds of people attended a party this week on Long Island at a mansion that was rented on Airbnb, according to authorities in Suffolk County, New York.

The Suffolk County Police Department confirmed the event in an email to NBC News, saying they responded to calls at 51 Hawkins Lane in Brookhaven at approximately 12:25 a.m. on November 30.

"Fifth Precinct officers responded to the house where approximately 300 to 400 people were present," Suffolk PD said.

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Hospital director hopeful for future Covid vaccine trails for children

Don't get carried away with "over-optimism," U.K. PM says after vaccine approval

Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned against too much optimism Wednesday after the United Kingdom became the first country to formally approve the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

The U.K. has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine — enough for up to a third of its population — and the first inoculations are set to be rolled out next week, but Johnson said it will "inevitably take some months" before the most vulnerable individuals are protected. 

"So it's all the more vital that, as we celebrate this scientific achievement, we are not carried away with over-optimism or fall into the naive belief that the struggle is over," the PM said. "It's not."

Johnson also warned about "immense logistical challenges" that lie ahead for vaccine distribution, citing the need for cold storage and the requirement for two shots of the vaccine to render immunity. 

Putin orders 'large-scale' Covid vaccination in Russia

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered the start of a “large-scale” Covid-19 vaccination by late next week, with doctors and teachers to be the first in line to receive the Sputnik V shots, which have yet to complete advanced studies needed to ensure its effectiveness and safety in line with established scientific protocols.

Sputnik V has been touted in Russia as the world’s “first registered Covid-19 vaccine” after it received regulatory approval in early August. However, giving the shots the government go-ahead drew considerable criticism from experts, because at the time they had only been tested on several dozen people.

Putin said Wednesday that more than 2 million doses of the Sputnik V jab “has been produced or will have been produced in the next few days.”

Trump’s vaccine czar hopes U.K. approval of Pfizer vaccine ebbs 'politicization'

President Donald Trump's Covid-19 vaccine czar Dr. Moncef Slaoui said on Wednesday he hopes the United Kingdom's approval of the Pfizer vaccine encourages skeptical Americans to take the inoculation.

The U.K. became the first country Wednesday to formally approve the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, a symbolic milestone in the fight against the pandemic.

Slaoui, who is leading the Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed, said that fact that an external British regulatory agency approved the vaccine is exciting because "of course they have not been involved in the politicization that surrounded the development."

He also said it's further "evidence that the data with these vaccines are clear," showing "that they are safe for use in the general population."

"Vaccines are useless if they are not used to vaccinate people," Slaoui said, whose message comes as vaccines face a growing and powerful misinformation movement online.

New York will have Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for 170,000 people by Dec. 15, Cuomo says

New York will receive its first delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine on Dec. 15, with doses for 170,000 people, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. 

The announcement highlights ongoing plans to quickly transport vaccine doses across the U.S. in preparation for FDA approval, which could come later this month. The U.K. on Wednesday became the first country to approve the Pfizer vaccine.

Pfizer vaccines are already on the move

CDC shortens quarantine period to 10 days with no symptoms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is shortening the recommended quarantine period from 14 days after a person has been exposed to the coronavirus, offering two alternatives, the agency said Wednesday.

The first alternative is to end quarantine after 10 days if no symptoms are reported, Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s Covid-19 incident manager, said on a call with reporters. The second option is to end quarantine after seven days if an individual tests negative and also reports no symptoms.

The decision is based on new research and modeling data, Walke said.

Still, Walke noted that a 14-day quarantine is still the best way to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

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Gloria Estefan says she tested positive for Covid

Singer Gloria Estefan, who has been urging her fans to take Covid-19 precautions, said she tested positive for the virus last month.

“In the past few weeks I have been one of the victims of Covid,” Estefan said on Instagram.

Estefan said she thinks she caught the coronavirus on Oct. 30 from a fan who was not wearing a mask and who “tapped me on the shoulder” while she was eating outdoors with a small group of family members at a local restaurant.

“I even held my breath, quite honestly, through their talk but something must have happened there,” she said.

The 63-year-old performer said she got tested on Nov. 8 after she lost her senses of taste and smell and developed a mild cough.

Estefan said she isolated at her home on Star Island, which is just off Miami Beach, for two weeks and has tested negative twice since then.

But even before the diagnosis, Estefan said she and her family were careful about wearing masks and isolating at home and that the restaurant outing was “the only time I ever went out.”