03:28 GMT19 January 2021
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    The first shipments of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine left a factory in Michigan early on 13 December, as part of efforts to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that is claiming more than 2,400 lives a day in the United States.

    The US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn went on ABC’s “This Week,” to deny claims by President Donald Trump that Pfizer’s COVID-19  vaccine could have been available a week sooner.

    “We do not feel that this could have been out a week earlier,” Hahn said, noting that the FDA went through its process appropriately and that he felt “very confident” in the decisions the agency made.

    ​White House chief of staff Mark Meadows reportedly told Hahn he needed to grant an emergency use authorisation for Pfizer/BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine by the end of Friday, and if not, he would have to resign, according to AP News.

    US President Donald Trump has been complaining about the FDA chief and the tardiness of the agency's procedures since the vaccine was rolled out in the UK last week.

    The FDA finally authorised the vaccine for use late on Friday.

    ​The United States expects to immunise 100 million people, or about 30% of its population, by the end of March, according to Dr Moncef Slaoui, an adviser to the US vaccination effort - known as Operation Warp Speed - in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

    The massive logistical effort is complicated by the need to transport and store the vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech SE at 70 degrees Celsius below freezing (minus 94 Fahrenheit), requiring enormous quantities of dry ice or specialised ultra-cold freezers.

    The federal government plans to release the nation’s first 2.9 million doses to 45 states, 12 cities and seven territories as well as five federal agencies. Although the federal government is co-ordinating distribution efforts, states have the final say over who gets the first shots. The federal government is sending the first shipments to more than 600 locations.

    Public opinion polls show that about half the American population is willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. However, many have concerns about the jab's safety, with some saying that they plan to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach in the first few months of the vaccine’s roll-out.

    Tags:
    Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vaccine, Pfizer, Trump, COVID-19
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