December 19 coronavirus news

By Emiko Jozuka, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt and Sarah Diab, CNN

Updated 11:20 PM ET, Mon December 21, 2020
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8:16 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

US hits record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations

From CNN’s Haley Brink

The United States reported 114,751 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on Friday, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project (CTP).

This is the 17th consecutive day that the US has remained above 100,000 current hospitalizations.

The highest hospitalization numbers, according to CTP data, are:

  1. Dec. 18: 114,751
  2. Dec. 17: 114,195
  3. Dec. 16: 113,066
  4. Dec. 15: 112,814
  5. Dec. 14: 110,549
11:42 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

FDA authorizes a second vaccine as average daily cases and deaths hit records

From CNN's Jason Hanna, Theresa Waldrop and Christina Maxouris

A healthcare professional gets vital information from a Covid-19 patient at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on December 17.
A healthcare professional gets vital information from a Covid-19 patient at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on December 17. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration on Friday night authorized a second coronavirus vaccine for emergency use as Covid-19 hospitalizations, cases and deaths are piling up in unprecedented ways.

The FDA had signaled it would issue the authorization quickly for Moderna's vaccine candidate, after the agency's vaccine advisers voted Thursday to recommend approval.

"The emergency use authorization allows the vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for use in individuals 18 years and older," the FDA said in a tweet.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still needs to green-light the vaccine before shots can be administered -- and a CDC advisory panel is meeting this weekend to discuss it.

If all hurdles are cleared, Moderna's vaccine could be given in the US next week -- joining Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine, which rolled out this week, with first doses primarily being given to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

"It's an exciting time, but it's a heartbreaking time," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN Friday of the vaccines' arrivals. "The numbers (of cases, deaths and hospitalizations) are almost unspeakable at this point."

In the US, average daily cases, total hospitalizations and average daily deaths are still rising to levels not previously seen, as hospital staff around the country warn they're running out of space and energy to provide sufficient care

Read the full story:

11:41 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

Extra doses in Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine vials are safe and should be used, FDA says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

A hospital pharmacist prepares a syringe with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from a vile that holds five doses at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia, on December 16.
A hospital pharmacist prepares a syringe with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from a vile that holds five doses at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia, on December 16. John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The extra doses in Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vials are safe and should be used, US Food and Drug Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said Friday.

It’s possible to squeeze out extra doses of Pfizer’s vaccine from the vials, if there is solution remaining in them after the standard five doses are given, the FDA said earlier this week.

“It's safe to use,” Hahn said in an interview with Michael Toscano on the “First Light” podcast. “If the appropriate dosage is in there, the volume for the vaccine, it should be used, and we have no concerns about that.”

Hahn said that it’s not uncommon for extra solution to be in vaccine vials.

“It's a very common thing,” he said. “There’s always some overage that occurs, just to make sure that there's enough for the doses that are said to be within the vial.”

It’s important to plan for anyone who receives one vaccine dose to get a second, Hahn said.

“If you want the 95% protection, the clinical trial shows that the two-dose regimen, 21 days apart, is what you need,” he said. “But given that this overage is in the vials, we believe that that can be factored into subsequent calculations.”

11:41 p.m. ET, December 18, 2020

Fauci: "We will crush this outbreak that has terrorized us for the last 11 months"

From CNN's Andrea Diaz

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. CNN

During a virtual event with the Duke Science and Society on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that thanks to science "we will crush" the Covid-19 outbreak.

"Biomedical research and science have given us something that just a decade ago would have seemed unimaginable, to be able to have a new virus that we had never had experience before being thrust upon us and throw us into one of the most extraordinary destructive pandemics in over 100 years," Fauci said. 

He continued:

"Just over the past few days, science has allowed us to have a vaccine that when we distribute it to people throughout the country, and hopefully throughout the world, we will crush this outbreak that has really terrorized us for the last 11 months, not only here in the United States, but worldwide, it's damaged severely, the economy and lead to people suffering things, not necessarily directly related to being ill themselves, but all the secondary consequences that go with the effects of a global pandemic such as this."