00:40 GMT25 January 2021
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    The US currently only has one approved COVID-19 vaccine after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) green-lit the Pfizer-BioNTech drug last week. Reports have suggested that a vaccine made by pharmaceutical company Moderna may soon be approved and doses deployed to health professionals.

    Top health expert Anthony Fauci, who serves as the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and as a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has called on Americans to “step to the plate” and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Fauci’s Friday remarks were given after a morning event that saw US Vice President Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence and US Surgeon General Jerome Adams publicly be given their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The trio are expected to receive their second dose in approximately 21 days.

    Fauci called the vaccination an “important, symbolic” move for the nation to drive the message home that “the time is now to step to the plate and when your time comes, to get vaccinated.”

    "We all hope - and I think this is doable - that by the time we get several months into this year, we will have enough people protected that we can start thinking seriously about the return to normality," he added.

    The health official also said that while the vaccine was developed quickly, the safety and integrity of the immunization was by no means compromised, as the vaccine was reviewed by an independent body before being approved by the FDA. 

    "The decision as to whether or not it's safe and effective was not in the hands of the company, nor was it in the hands of the administration," he stressed in a bid to reassure skeptical Americans concerned about the effectiveness of the vaccine. 

    Fauci later stated that pandemic may soon begin to let up somewhat “as we get into January, February, March and April.”

    “It’s up to all of us to step up and get vaccinated,” he concluded.

    Moderna Rollout May Start ‘Early Next Week’

    The health expert also remarked during an interview on Friday with NBC’s “Today” morning news show that he predicts Moderna’s two-part vaccine will start being administered “by the very early part of next week.”

    “I would hope Monday or Tuesday, but we just have to wait to see for the final decision,” he told the show’s Savannah Guthrie, before underscoring that Americans still need to stay in line with COVID-19 countermeasures. 

    “We can't just say, ‘Well, there’s a vaccine on the horizon, so let’s forget about everything else.’”

    An advisory panel endorsed Moderna’s vaccine on Thursday; however, the FDA has yet to grant an emergency use authorization. 

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges individuals to maintain social distancing, practice good hygiene and adhere to masking protocols, among other measures.

    The latest details from Johns Hopkins University show that the US reported 233,271 new COVID-19 cases as of Friday, as well as an additional 3,270 related deaths. Maintaining a test positivity ratio of over 11%, the US states reporting the highest numbers of cases are, in order, California, Texas, Florida, Ohio and New York.

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    Anthony Fauci, Pfizer, vaccine, COVID-19, FDA
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