Trump adviser dismisses claim Pfizer delayed vaccine news to hurt the president
The number of travelers passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints has been rising in recent days despite warnings from public health experts that Thanksgiving travel could further spike already-spiraling COVID-19 numbers.
More than 2.9 million flyers passed through TSA security over the three-day period that ended Saturday, including over 1 million on Friday. That marked only the second time the number surpassed 1 million since the start of the pandemic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told USA TODAY’s Editorial Board last week that “you’ve got to decide, during this interesting period of a lot of infection going on, colder weather, indoors: Do you want to travel and go to a Thanksgiving meal where there may be 12, 15, 20 people?”
The U.S. reported its 12 millionth case of COVID-19 on Saturday, days after the nation surpassed 250,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Pfizer is taking its vaccine to the FDA, and a Trump adviser dismisses the president’s claim that Pfizer withheld news of its successes to harm his reelection bid.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 12 million cases and more than 255,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 58 million cases and almost 1.4 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
📰 What we’re reading: It’s a hard time to be in college. Now more than ever, students are facing incredible mental health stressors.
This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.
Vaccine inoculations could start as soon as Dec. 13
Less than a year after the unprecedented effort began, the first COVID-19 vaccines are expected to reach Americans within weeks. No one knows for certain, but Dec. 13 is the first possible day the vaccine could be administered — although the week after is more likely. Pfizer and its German collaborator BioNTech applied for emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday. Moderna is expected to send in its application as soon as Dec. 4. Here’s the time line to a vaccine.
– Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
Some students feel shortchanged when opting for online learning
Providing an equal education to kids learning in person and to those learning at home is undoubtedly difficult, if not impossible. School officials say they just don’t have the means to do both well without more funding and more teachers. Some families choosing remote learning worry their kids have been neglected as schools respond to politicians and parents clamoring for a return to normal.
Bonnie Owen, a former teacher and stay-at-home mom in Williamson County, Tennessee, has asthma and her daughter has two autoimmune conditions. The local school district welcomed students back to full-time, in-person classrooms this fall, but Owen worried the risk of exposing her family. Now she is dismayed at the online option.
“The online students are basically an after-school activity,” said Owen, who added that teachers were “overworked, overloaded and overwhelmed.” Read more here.
– Bracey Harris and Caroline Preston, The Hechinger Report
Trump adviser dismisses claims that vaccine was delayed for politics
A top COVID-19 adviser to the Trump administration on Sunday dismissed claims by President Donald Trump that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer delayed reporting the successes of its vaccine candidates to hurt his re-election chances.
“I don’t think any specific action has taken place to delay the vaccine,” Operation Warp Speed chief science adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Slaoui said he believes that Pfizer asking for 60 days to follow up after completion of immunizations on thousands of volunteers “to ensure that we understand the short term and the predictable long term safety of the vaccine” was an appropriate decision that drove the Pfizer timeline. Pfizer submitted an emergency use application for its vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration on Friday. The FDA is scheduled to discuss potential authorization Dec. 10.
Happy Thanksgiving — alone in a pandemic
The runaway pandemic has prompted people to rethink their Thanksgiving plans, with many choosing to eat a meal — known for community and family — alone.
“As cases continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counsels. About one-third of Americans live in single-person households, according to Census data. Families now must negotiate over social distancing ground rules, how to share meals and whether the whole thing should be called off.
In Chicago, Taylor Edwards is unsure whether she’ll be eating alone on Thursday. Edwards, 28, has mostly kept away from her parents because of COVID concerns.
“This time next year we could be in a much better place, and I want all my family members to be there,” Edwards said.
– Alan Gomez
Georgia Sen. Loeffler quarantining after maskless appearance with Pence
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, is quarantining after receiving mixed results from recent coronavirus tests, a day after she campaigned maskless with Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. David Perdue in the state’s hotly contested Senate runoff races. Loeffler took two rapid COVID tests on Friday morning that came back negative, her campaign said in a statement Saturday night. She received another test Friday evening and the results came back positive, the statement said. Loeffler tested again Saturday morning and the results were inconclusive. Her campaign says she doesn’t have symptoms. Loeffler is following CDC guidelines and informing those with whom she was in direct contact, the statement said.
Experimental drug cocktail given to Trump gets FDA authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted Regeneron Pharmaceutical an Emergency Use Authorization for a drug cocktail to treat COVID-19. President Donald Trump has touted the experimental antibody treatment and took it while he was being treated for the disease.
“In a clinical trial, the investigational therapy was shown to reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or ER visits in certain patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe,” the FDA tweeted Saturday.
The drug, a pair of monoclonal antibodies, is intended to mimic the natural process of the immune system, providing it with molecules the body normally manufactures to fight off specific diseases. Trump was able to get it under a “compassionate use” exemption, which the company said at the time it has granted to fewer than 10 people, after requests from their doctors and approval by the FDA. A similar monoclonal antibody treatment was also given emergency authorization earlier this month.