Americans were yesterday facing a growing raft of COVID-19 restrictions, even as pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and partner BioNTech prepared to file an emergency request to roll out their vaccine.
California announced a nighttime curfew and authorities urged people everywhere not to travel for Thanksgiving as the US was hit by a spike of more than 2,200 deaths — the worst daily toll since May.
The surge came as India surpassed 9 million infections since the pandemic began, with hospitals in Delhi under immense pressure.
The global outbreak shows no sign of abating after killing more than 1.35 million people and infecting 56 million, with many governments pinning their hopes on several promising vaccine candidates to end the misery.
An emergency use authorization request for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was expected to be filed with the US Food and Drug Administration yesterday, the government and BioNTech’s cofounder said.
The EU could also approve the vaccine as well as another by Moderna before the end of next month, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.
The two candidates have taken the lead in the global chase for a solution, after large-scale trial data this month showed their jabs were about 95 percent effective, but the speed at which the vaccines have been developed has raised alarm in some quarters.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci sought to dispel those concerns during a rare briefing by the White House task force on Thursday.
“The process of the speed did not compromise at all safety nor did it compromise scientific integrity. It was a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines,” Fauci said.
In China, nearly 1 million people have already taken an experimental vaccine developed by Chinese company Sinopharm, the firm said yesterday, although it has not yet provided any clear clinical evidence of efficacy.
The nation has been giving experimental COVID-19 vaccines to people — including state employees, international students and essential workers — going abroad since July.
Beijing has been bullish about the science, with four vaccines now in late-stage testing.
The surge in US infections has sufficiently alarmed authorities to request that Americans stay at home for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, which normally sees millions travel.
“It’s not a requirement. It’s a strong recommendation,” US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doctor Henry Walke told reporters.
US states and cities have been imposing their own restrictions, including home confinement, the closure of indoor dining and a limit on gatherings as infections soar across the nation.
MEMORIAL SERVICE: President Tsai spoke at a service at Chihhang Air Base to honor captain Chu Kuan-meng, who died after ejecting from his F-5E on Oct. 29 An air force F-16 jet went missing off the east coast of Taiwan last night, and search and recovery operations were ongoing as of press time, the Ministry of National Defense said. The F-16 disappeared from radar screens at 6:07pm 9 nautical miles (17km) northeast of Hualien Air Base, two minutes after taking off from the base as part of a nighttime training exercise, the ministry said. The F-16, serial number 6672, was piloted by Colonel Chiang Cheng-chih (蔣正志), it said. A National Rescue Command Center statement said that a Black Hawk helicopter and Coast Guard Administration vessels had been
SUPPORT: Reporters Without Borders said that it stands behind the legitimacy of the commission’s probe and that press freedom does not mean the absence of oversight National Communications Commission (NCC) commissioners yesterday reached a unanimous decision to reject CTi News’ (中天新聞台) license renewal application on the grounds that the channel’s frequent contraventions of media regulations showed that it has a malfunctioning internal control mechanism that cannot be rectified. This was the first time since it was established in 2006 that the commission denied a license renewal to a news channel. NCC Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) announced the landmark decision at the commission’s weekly media briefing. The commission denied the renewal request because the news channel was fined a total of NT$11.53 million (US$400,932) for 25 breaches of media regulations
AUTUMN STRUGGLE: The KMT and TPP set up stages on the rally’s sidelines, while Want Want boss Tsai Eng-meng said the DPP was curtailing freedom of speech Tens of thousands of people in Taipei yesterday took part in the “Autumn Struggle” (秋鬥) — an annual protest march by labor groups — but with this year’s focus on rejecting the government’s plan to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine residue. “Against poisonous pork, against double standards, against a party-state,” the protesters, mostly wearing black, chanted in front of the rally’s main stage on Ketagalan Boulevard at about noon, before a parade set off at 2pm. Autumn Struggle spokesperson Lee Chien-cheng (李建誠) said this year’s march was divided into three teams, with the first team urging food safety and labor
An investigation has found no mechanical problems underlying the Tuesday disappearance of an F-16 jet and its pilot, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday, adding that it does not rule out an accident due to “spatial disorientation.” An air force F-16 jet on Tuesday evening disappeared from radar screens, just two minutes after it took off from Hualien Air Base, while the 44-year-old pilot, Colonel Chiang Cheng-chih (蔣正志), has yet to be found. Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) yesterday morning headed to Hualien for updates on the search and rescue, while giving a pep talk to Chiang’s unit,