Report of cases, hospitalization, and deaths from Covid-19 before meeting about the Moderna vaccine

(CNN) – The United States reported record numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on Wednesday, ahead of a major rally for what could be the country’s second COVID-19 vaccine to get the green light.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine advisers will meet Thursday to discuss Moderna’s vaccine, and officials expect a swift emergency authorization process, even faster than last week for the vaccine. from Pfizer.

Hundreds of U.S. health workers have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and many states have announced that they also expect vaccinations for nursing home residents to begin this week. And on Wednesday, the FDA said that people who administer that vaccine can squeeze additional doses from the vials if there is any solution left after the five standard doses have been administered.

Politico was the first to report that some pharmacists found they could pull six and possibly seven doses of vaccine from the vials, each designed to deliver five doses of vaccine. An FDA spokeswoman told CNN that the agency was aware of the issue and “worked with Pfizer to determine the best way forward.”

Currently, given the public health emergency, the FDA recommends that it is acceptable to use any full dose available (the sixth or possibly up to the seventh) from each vial, pending resolution of the matter ,” he said. the spokeswoman. “However, as the vials do not contain preservatives, it is critical to note that any remaining product that does not form a full dose should not be combined from multiple vials to make one.”

More than 2.9 million doses were assigned to states for the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, according to a list released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 21 days later, more than 2.9 million more will be available for second doses.

The first shots and possible green light for Moderna are all good news. But the pandemic ravaging the United States is far from over and more brutal than ever.

Disappointing numbers were recorded everywhere Wednesday: the highest covid-19 infections and deaths ever reported in one day, and the highest number of covid-19 hospital admissions the country has seen since the start of the pandemic.

More than 247,000 new cases have been reported. More than 113,000 Americans have been hospitalized with the virus, according to the hospital COVID tracking project. And more than 3,600 deaths were added to the death toll in the country.

“Still in a dangerous and critical part” of the pandemic

While some progress has been made in slowing the spread of the virus in the northern and central US, according to the White House coronavirus task force, cases continue to increase in the most populous states.

“Stabilization in the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and some Rocky Mountain states and the interior of the US is being offset by a significant decline in the most densely populated states (82% of the population),” the task force said. states sent and obtained by CNN.

And now Americans have to make big decisions: The upcoming vacation could contribute to another surge in cases, hospitalizations, and inevitable deaths, if people choose to travel and meet again. Despite a CDC warning before Thanksgiving urging them not to travel, more than four million people spent the holidays away from home.

In California, where health officials in Los Angeles County continue to report a staggering number of cases, director of health services, Dr. Christina Ghaly, attributed the increase to residents who gathered over the Thanksgiving holiday. despite repeated requests to stay at home.

And the worst is yet to come, Ghaly added, saying, “We are still facing some very rough weeks, and possibly January.”

Governors in the Northeast and Midwest released a video message this week encouraging residents to “double down” security measures and rethink their vacation plans.

“If you plan to travel or meet other households over the holidays, we recommend that you reconsider,” said the governors. “A single infection can trigger an outbreak in your community that can overwhelm our hospitals and put you and your loved ones at risk.”

Hoping to stem the holiday spread, Judge Ricardo Samaniego in El Paso County announced curfews from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from December 23 to December 26 and December 30 to January 4.

“What people need to know is, we are still in a dangerous and critical part of this pandemic, and tens of thousands of American lives are at stake,” said Admiral Brett Giroir, deputy health secretary of the Department of Health. and Services. People.

“If you can avoid travel, that’s a good measure,” he added.

More covid-19 tests were allowed at home

Meanwhile, the FDA also issued an emergency use permit on Wednesday for another covid-19 home test, Abbott’s BinaxNOW Covid-19 Ag Card home test.

The test is approved for prescription use at home using self-collected nasal swab samples from people 15 years of age and older who the healthcare provider suspects Covid-19 within the first seven days of the onset of symptoms, ” the agency said in a statement. Adults can take samples for younger children.

Abbott has said the new test will cost $ 25.

“The FDA continues to approve COVID-19 tests that will give more Americans access to more flexibility and testing options,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

That comes a day after the FDA also approved emergency use for a $ 30 over-the-counter test by Ellume that people can take home and do themselves.

On Wednesday, Giroir said more good news will likely be coming soon from the FDA about “other home tests that aren’t exactly OTC but are in the same base.”

“You will see more and more tests being authorized, and then they will increase very soon in the first half of the year,” he added.

LEE: Who should get the covid-19 vaccine (and who shouldn’t)?

FDA is investigating allergic reaction to vaccine

The FDA is also investigating an allergic reaction from an Alaskan health worker who, according to doctors, received the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday and felt flushed within 10 minutes and then reported symptoms such as shortness of breath and rapid frequency. heart.

The case is the first reported allergic reaction to the vaccine in the US, but officials say they expect an occasional reaction and are willing to treat anyone who has it.

The health worker, a middle-aged woman, had no history of a serious allergic reaction to vaccines, her doctors said Wednesday.

“About one in a million people who receive a vaccine can have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, to CNN. “What we need to find out is what specifically appears to be causing this allergic reaction.”

The matter is something health officials should be investigating, Offit said.

“Currently, the CDC recommendation is that if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to an injectable medical product, you shouldn’t receive this vaccine,” he said. “If you have had severe allergic reactions in the past, you should get vaccinated, but you should wait in the area for 30 minutes to make sure you can have the epinephrine shot and those symptoms go away.

“If you have never had a severe allergic reaction, you should wait 15 minutes for the same reason.”

CNN’s Maggie Fox, Jacqueline Howard, Raja Razek and Andrea Diaz contributed to this report.