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US Congress dashes hopes for new stimulus bill as regulator approves Pfizer vaccine

*The US Food and Drug Administration says it is finalising necessary documents to ensure that patients and providers have the information they need to make informed decisions

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel greenlight for the much expected Pfizer vaccine in the country, the United States (US) is reported to be a step closer to receiving a vaccine against the devastating Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

An advisory panel to the FDA finally, has recommended approval of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn disclosed Saturday, December 12, 2020, that the regulatory “is finalising the necessary documents to ensure that patients and providers have the information that they need to make informed decisions.”

It was gathered three of the panelists voting ‘No’ told reporters that they would have voted ‘Yes’ if the vaccine were strictly for people 18 and older.

Report stated the threesome had contended that there was insufficient data for people under 18, while the other panelists said the benefits far outweighed the risks.

Ofer Levy, a panel member and Director of the Precision Vaccines Programme at Boston Children’s Hospital, in the United States, told The Wall Street Journal that “when you have 2,000 to 3,000 people a day—a day—dying of Coronavirus, to me this was a clear choice.”

Subsequently, both CVS, UPS, and others on a hiring spree to aid in COVID-19 vaccine distribution across the US, as some companies are reportedly offering bonuses to new hires.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s supply chain is getting a boost to the advantage of unemployed workers, according to report.

With the country readying itself for the speedy distribution of approved Coronavirus vaccines and weekly unemployment claims continuing to mount, four companies involved in the pivotal distribution and administration of a vaccine have set out on a hiring binge.

The two largest logistics companies in the country, UPS and FedEx, typically hire extra employees every year around the holidays.

Nonetheless, due to the demand of getting vaccines to ready and willing people safely, and the added stress of ensuring that the vaccines are delivered at the required “ultra-low temperatures”, the companies are adding even more workers now.

FedEx’s America’s Regional President Robert Smith, Thursday, December 10, had told Senators at a subcommittee hearing of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, that “we recognised early on this would be a record peak season. “We’ve even taken to calling this peak ‘The Shipathon’ months ago because we knew it was going to be a record peak.”

Report stated the other part of the equation is administering the vaccines proper. To escalate that component, Operation Warp Speed has contracted both Walgreens and CVS, the nation’s two largest pharmacy chains in this regard.

Walgreens’ goal is to hire 9,000 additional staff, and it’s so intent on fulfilling its obligation that it’s offering sign-on and referral bonuses of up to $30,000.

However, CVS didn’t disclose any hiring numbers or bonuses, but it did add supplementary information on the “vaccine support” section of its corporate Web site.

The company said: “We’re hiring pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and nurses to administer COVID-19 vaccines and care for patients across the United States.”

ConsumerConnect reports that in connection with the recent spikes in the virus cases across states in the US, and checks with Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University revealed that as of Saturday, the total confirmed Coronavirus cases in the US were estimated at 15,645,955 whereas the total number of deaths was put at 292,611.

Globally, total COVID-19 cases across the world were 69,833,475 with the aggregate global deaths estimated at 1,587,024.

In a related development, hopes for immediate action on a new COVID-19 aid bill by the US Congress in December 2020 are quickly fading.

It was learnt key Republican Senators had backed away from a $908 billion compromise bill put forth by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the developed economy.

The sticking point remains language dealing with financial aid to states and cities along with liability protection during the pandemic for businesses.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Republicans think the liability protection should be stronger, agency report said.

However, Democrats maintain they continue to be supportive of the proposal, noting that key benefits for consumers under the CARES Act expire at the end of December. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) Saturday upped the ante, as the legislators added an amendment to send direct aid to Americans to the stopgap spending bill.

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