Here's what's happening Sunday with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and around the world:
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
—Leaders of the world’s most powerful nations vowed to ensure affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines as they wrapped up a Group of 20 summit. The two-day meeting, held virtually, focused on battling the coronavirus and supporting the global economy as it suffers from a pandemic that has killed at least 1.38 million people and plunged millions more into poverty. The group vowed “to spare no effort to protect lives," but did not directly address how it would come up with the billions of dollars needed for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of vaccines around the world.
—Crowding at U.S. airports as people travel for Thanksgiving has the nation’s top infectious disease expert worried. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that infections spreading as people travel “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now." He says the new cases won’t show up for weeks, but could hit at the worst time: during the December holiday season as the weather grows cold.
—A potential date for the rollout of the first coronavirus vaccine has been set for Dec. 12. The head of the U.S. effort to produce a vaccine said he hopes vaccinations could begin two days after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meets Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer Inc.’s request for an emergency use authorization for developing its vaccine.
Cases of the virus are running rampant across most parts of the U.S., but hospital resources are spread thin. More Americans — over 83,000 — are hospitalized for COVID-19 than at any other point of the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The number of people dying from the virus across the country is also rising at a grim pace. The average number of Americans dying from the virus each day over the past week is now 1,467, according to Johns Hopkins University. That's nearly a 50% rise from just two weeks ago. More than 256,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
“Large numbers of people getting together oblivious of controls — no masks, no social distancing, often indoors — a lot of those things are in fact occurring at night." — Dr. Mark Cullen, an infectious disease expert who recently retired from Stanford University, on a limited curfew imposed on many parts of California as the state sees record numbers of coronavirus cases.
Lines for free COVID-19 tests stretch for blocks and hours in cities where people feel the dual strain of the coronavirus surge and the approaching holidays. But an increasing number of pop-up clinics promise visitors instant results — at a cost. Some charge $150 or more for a spot at the front of the queue. That has raised fresh concerns over who can afford rapid testing and whether inequality is “baked into” access.
ON THE HORIZON
Before any vaccine is permitted in the U.S., it must be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, which requires study on thousands of people. Normally, the process to approve a new vaccine can take about a decade. But the federal government is using various methods to dramatically speed up the process. Instead of the usual requirement of “substantial evidence” of safety and effectiveness for approval, the FDA can allow products onto the market as long as their benefits are likely to outweigh their risks.