US FDA panel recommends Covid-19 vaccine authorization

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Emma Reynolds, Nada Bashir, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 7:50 a.m. ET, December 11, 2020
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8:13 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Some US hospitals have only a few ICU beds left as coronavirus numbers reach all-time highs

From CNN's Jason Hanna, Madeline Holcombe and Steve Almasy

In states across the nation, officials remain concerned about the number of Covid-19 patients in the hospital and the ability of hospitals to find enough rooms.

California on Wednesday set records in cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions. The most populous state has only about 1,500 ICU beds available.

Fresno County's Interim Public Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra reported zero ICU capacity Tuesday.

"Whenever the ICUs get full, it's really hard to move patients through the emergency department. It's really hard for us to provide efficient services," said Vohra, a specialist in emergency medicine.

The state has mandated restrictions for five regions if ICU capacity goes below 15%. The greater Sacramento region reached the threshold Wednesday and a stay-at-home order for 3 million residents will begin late Thursday.

"I know that those who aren't in the medical field may not understand or quite grasp just how dire the situation is, but all the things you're hearing about -- how impacted our hospitals are, about how dire the situation with our ICUs is -- it's absolutely true. And that really is the reason that we want everyone to stay home as much as possible," Vohra said.

Oklahoma facilities had just 34 available ICU beds as of late Tuesday.

Other states that reported record hospitalizations Wednesday include North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

In the United States, Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have soared.

The US has averaged 206,152 new cases a day over the past seven days -- the country's highest average in the pandemic so far.

And 106,688 Covid-19 patients were reported in US hospitals Wednesday, also a high for the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The country's average number of daily coronavirus deaths across a week -- 2,230 -- is close to the highest-ever average of 2,241 recorded on April 24, Johns Hopkins University data show. In total, more than 288,000 people in the US have died of the virus.

More than 15.3 million official Covid-19 cases have been reported, according to data from JHU, though researchers believe the actual number of infections is much higher.

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8:17 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Canada approves vaccine as US prepares decision

From CNN's Jason Hanna, Madeline Holcombe and Steve Almasy

Canada's health department on Wednesday gave emergency approval to a coronavirus vaccine, a day before the US Food and Drug Administration is due to meet about whether to do the same.

Health Canada determined the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19 meets the department's safety, efficacy and quality requirements for use in Canada, the department said Wednesday. The decision comes a week after the United Kingdom authorized vaccine use there.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that Canada would receive an initial shipment of 249,000 doses by the end of the year and expected Canada's first vaccinations to occur sometime next week.

In the United States, meanwhile, an official said Covid-19 vaccines would be distributed to vulnerable populations within days of any decision to authorize them.

The FDA will meet Thursday to discuss whether to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine candidate in the US. A decision could come within days of that meeting, officials say.

##Vaccines

11:05 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

China's Sinopharm vaccine has 86% efficacy against Covid-19, says UAE

From CNN's Mostafa Salem and Yong Xiong

An experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm has 86% efficacy, the United Arab Emirates Health Ministry said in a statement carried by the state news agency on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry said the results for the vaccine were based on interim analysis of the late-stage clinical trials which the UAE started in July.

Though few details were provided, the statement marks the first publicly released information regarding the performance of the Chinese vaccine, developed by the China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a unit of Sinopharm. The UAE approved emergency use for frontline workers in September.

"The analysis shows no serious safety concerns," the statement said, though it did not make clear whether individual participants suffered any specific side effects, or how many volunteers were given the vaccine or a placebo.
The statement added that the "official registration" of the Covid-19 vaccine is "a major step towards combating the global pandemic." The statement did not elaborate on what official registration would entail.

The clinical trials included 31,000 volunteers across 125 nationalities in the UAE, the statement said. So far, almost 100,000 people across the Emirates have also received the vaccine as part of a voluntary program, Jamal Al Kaabi, a top UAE health official told CNN.

UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was pictured receiving the jab during trials in November.

CNN has reached out to Sinopharm for more details.

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