What We’re Reading: UK Launches Pfizer Vaccine; FDA Review Confirms Vaccine Safety; Fauci Urges Limits on Holiday Gatherings

The United Kingdom administers the first doses of Pfizer's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine; an FDA review confirms the safety and efficacy of Pfizer's vaccine; Fauci advises holiday gatherings be limited to 10 or less people.

UK Residents Receive First COVID-19 Vaccine

The first patients in the United Kingdom have received a Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) immunization as part of a new mass vaccination program, BBC News reports. Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, received the first of 800,000 doses to be dispensed in the coming weeks. Vaccination hubs throughout the United Kingdom expect to vaccinate citizens 80 years and older and some health care staff soon, as up to 4 million more doses are expected to be administered by the end of the month. The United Kingdom is the first country in the world to begin distributing the vaccine, which was approved there last week.

FDA Review Signals Step Toward US Approval of Pfizer Vaccine

A 53-page review published by the FDA confirmed that Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine meets the standard for emergency use authorization (EUA) in the United States. Reported by The Washington Post, the briefing document is the most detailed independent review yet of the data and confirms that the 2-shot regimen is 95% effective. Short-term adverse effects include sore arms, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, and chills, which all typically resolve in 1 to 2 days. The review also concluded the vaccine can begin to protect individuals even after the first dose. An FDA advisory panel is slated to hear Pfizer’s application for its vaccine candidate this Thursday.

Fauci Urges Limits on Holiday Gatherings

Anthony Fauci, MD, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Americans should limit holiday gatherings to 10 individuals or fewer to help stem the spread of COVID-19 surging across the nation, NPR reports. Fauci made the remarks during a COVID-19 briefing held by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Warning that holiday gatherings could emerge as major vectors of the disease, Fauci said he expects coronavirus cases to continue to rise nationwide into January. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States has reported just under 15 million cases of COVID-19 and around 284,000 deaths.