2. US-approved COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for shipment

OLIVE BRANCH, miss. (AP) – The first shipments of the second U.S.-approved COVID-19 vaccine left a distribution center on Sunday. This has been a much-needed boost as the nation works to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.

The trucks left the Memphis area plant with the vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health. The much-needed shots are expected to be handed in starting Monday, just three days after the Food and Drug Administration approves their emergency rollout.

Later on Sunday, a panel of experts will discuss who should stand next for early doses of the Moderna vaccine and a similar vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech in Germany. Pfizer’s shots were first sent out a week ago and used the next day to kick off the country’s largest vaccination campaign.

Public health experts say the shots – and others in the pipeline – are the only way to stop a virus spreading wildly. Nationwide, an average of more than 219,000 people a day test the virus, which has killed at least 314,000 in the United States and more than 1.7 million people worldwide.

The Pfizer and Moderna recordings that have been shipped to date and will be released in the next few weeks will almost all be given to health professionals and residents of nursing homes, based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Vaccination Practices.

This panel meets on Sunday to discuss who should receive the available doses after these early recordings.

There won’t be enough shots for the general population by spring, so cans will be rationed for at least the next few months.

Panel members tend to put “critical workers” next in line, as people such as bus drivers, grocery store clerks, and others are the most likely to be infected. However, other experts say that it should be people 65 and over alongside people with certain medical conditions, as these are the Americans who die most often.

The expert panel’s advice is almost always endorsed by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regardless of what the CDC says, there will be differences from state to state as their health departments have different ideas about who should be closer to the top of the line.

Both the new Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine require two doses several weeks apart. The second dose must be from the same company as the first. Both vaccines appeared to be safe and highly protective in large, ongoing studies.

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