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FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine

The authorization is "a significant milestone in battling this devastating pandemic," FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading Covid-19 news from Dec. 20, 2020.

The Food and Drug Administration said it had authorized the first Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States late Friday — the first major, tantalizing indication for Americans that the pandemic's days may be numbered.

A letter from the FDA to Pfizer reads that "the known and potential benefits of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID‑19 vaccine" outweigh its potential risks for people ages 16 and older.

FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn in a statement called the authorization "a significant milestone in battling this devastating pandemic that has affected so many families in the United States and around the world."

615d ago / 1:16 PM UTC

Estonians plunge into icy water to ward off coronavirus blues

More than 500 people swam in the near-freezing waters off Tallinn port in Estonia's capital, in a giant winter swimming relay designed to counter the tedium of coronavirus restrictions.

Attired with funny hats, the swimmers ranged from a nine-year old boy to an 83-year old woman, and included a pregnant woman who joked her effort should be counted for two.

Dozens of spectators cheered along the course, as participants swam in a country that has seen the sport grow in popularity since Estonia first went into a coronavirus lockdown in spring.

Image: Woman wearing a Christmas decorations headwear swims during a largest winter swimming relay in Tallinn
A woman wearing Christmas-themed headwear swims during a winter swimming relay in Estonia's capital Tallinn.JANIS LAIZANS / Reuters
615d ago / 12:03 PM UTC

Tokyo sets case record as government criticized

Japan's capital, Tokyo, set a new record on Saturday, reporting 621 new coronavirus cases, as government measures face criticism ahead of the holiday season.

Experts on a Tokyo metropolitan task force say serious cases are on the rise, putting burdens on hospitals. The task force on Friday asked the national government to take tougher steps to slow social and economic activities in areas where infections are accelerating.

Nationwide, Japan reported a total of 174,000 cases, with about 2,500 deaths since the pandemic began.

Japan issued a non-binding state of emergency in the spring and has survived earlier infection peaks without a lockdown.

616d ago / 5:04 AM UTC

Bassam Saba, prominent figure in Arabic music, dies from Covid complications

Bassam Saba, a notable figure in Arabic music and once a part of Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road artists and Global Musician Workshop faculty, died from complications from COVID-19 on Dec. 4.

He was transferred to the non-Covid ICU in the American University of Beirut Medical Center after he was no longer deemed infectious. Days later, he was intubated after going through septic shock from contracting a superbug, and later died, his wife Dr. Diala Jaber said from the couple's home in Northport, New York.

“He had overcome the hard part of the COVID, but his lungs of course were very weakened by the Covid ... and then when he got the bacteria, his immune system was too low to fight the bacteria even though he was put on the proper antibiotics for the bacteria and his septic shock was too strong,” Jaber said.

A multi-instrumentalist and teaching artist, Saba, a Lebanese American who lived in Northport with his wife and daughter Mariana for almost 30 years, played the nay, oud and violin, among other instruments, and also directed the New York Arabic Orchestra with fellow musician April Centrone and had his own ensemble. 

Read the full story here.

616d ago / 4:16 AM UTC

Case reported in Hawaii county thought to be last without Covid

HONOLULU — A county on a Hawaii island believed to be the last one in the U.S. without any coronavirus cases has reported its first resident testing positive.

The Hawaii Department of Health on Thursday reported the case in Kalawao County on the island of Molokai. The health department says an adult resident tested positive after returning to the island on a local flight.

The person is in self-isolation and currently doesn’t have virus symptoms. The health department says contact tracing was conducted and all other passengers on the flight are in self-quarantine.

616d ago / 2:59 AM UTC

First Covid-19 vaccine gets FDA's OK

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday said it had authorized the first Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States — the first major, tantalizing indication for Americans that the pandemic's days may be numbered.

A letter from the FDA to Pfizer reads that "the known and potential benefits of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID‑19 vaccine" outweight its potential risks for people ages 16 and older.

The vaccine, made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, is expected to be shipped nationwide as soon as this weekend, earmarked for front-line health care workers, as well as staff working at long-term care facilities.

Read the full story here

616d ago / 2:03 AM UTC

Mexico approves emergency use of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government’s medical safety commission approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine Friday, making Mexico the fourth country to do so.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said Mexico’s approval came after Britain, Canada and Bahrain.

Mexico is set to receive 250,000 doses of the vaccine, enough for 125,000 people, because each person requires two shots. López-Gatell has said that front-line health workers will get the shots first.

Vaccinations are expected to begin as soon as next week. López-Gatell said the approval “is of course a reason for hope,” though the initial rounds of shots are not nearly enough for Mexico’s coronavirus cases Friday, for a total of 1,229,379 infections during the pandemic.