Belone led Zoom classes for behaviorally challenged students during the day and worked at night with those who had no internet via phone. After the hospitalization, the third-grade teacher taught while wearing an oxygen mask from her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She returned to the hospital almost two weeks later on November 28. A week after that, she was put on a ventilator in a last-ditch effort to save her life. But on December 11, the previously healthy 44-year-old passed away at the Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque.

Belone is one of more than 310,000 people who have now died from the virus in the United States — a number that keeps rising each day by levels not seen before in this pandemic. The nation set single-day highs for cases and deaths (3,656) on Wednesday. And hospitalizations hit record levels for the twelfth day in a row Thursday, as officials warn the worst is yet to come.

Vaccines have brought a glimmer of hope to an otherwise grim holiday season, with the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine and emergency authorization of Moderna’s candidate expected imminently. But public health experts say that, for many, the vaccine can’t come fast enough.

“The vaccine is coming way too late for thousands of people who will die before we get the vaccine distributed widely,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of Emory University’s School of Medicine, told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday.

“Transmissions (of the virus) are actively happening, and I think before the end of the year, we may be getting close to 4,000 deaths a day,” del Rio said.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: Moderna vs. Pfizer: Which vaccine is better?

A: The two vaccines are similar, but there are key differences that make Moderna’s vaccine “more flexible,” as US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar explained last month.

Efficacy: Both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have shown similar efficacy levels of nearly 95%.

Structure: Both vaccines rely on mRNA, or messenger RNA, to work, although with slightly different structures and makeup.

Cold storage: Most importantly, Moderna’s vaccine does not need to be kept at super-cold temperatures, like Pfizer’s.

Dosage and timing: Moderna’s vaccine is administered as two 100-microgram doses given 28 days apart. Pfizer’s vaccine is administered as two 30-microgram doses given 21 days apart.

Age: If authorized, the Moderna vaccine would be used in people aged 18 and over, while the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for 16-year-olds and older.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

Moderna vaccine moves closer to authorization in US

As the US on Thursday surpassed 17 million official Covid-19 cases, a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended a second coronavirus vaccine for the country. The FDA is widely expected to grant emergency use authorization for Moderna’s vaccine candidate — as it did for Pfizer’s vaccine last week — after its vaccine advisory panel voted to recommend it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would need to greenlight the vaccine before shots can be administered — and a CDC advisory panel is expected to meet on the matter Saturday, raising the possibility that the Moderna vaccine could be used next week.

Both Moderna and Pfizer started manufacturing vaccines months ago in expectation they would win FDA approval. But still the federal government does not have many doses yet and is trying to calm down states outraged or worried about lack of supplies.

Pence will be vaccinated on live TV

Vice President Mike Pence will roll up his sleeve and get a shot in the arm in a live televised event on Friday, endorsing the coronavirus vaccine and encouraging Americans to get immunized. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to receive his injection in front of cameras early next week. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is also set to publicly get vaccinated, although it’s unclear when or where.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced separately Thursday that they will both be receiving the coronavirus vaccine within days. All members of Congress will be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a memo from the Capitol attending physician Brian Monahan and a news release from Pelosi.
Conspicuously absent from the list of leaders lining up for a shot is President Donald Trump, who won’t be administered a coronavirus vaccine until it’s recommended by the White House medical team, a White House official told CNN on Wednesday. Americans still very much in danger are getting no cues or public leadership from Trump, who, on the same day that more than 3,600 new Covid deaths were reported, failed to mention the rising toll.

How Europe will vaccinate 448 million people

In the name of “science and solidarity,” the European Commission has secured over 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines for the bloc since June. Now, as European Union regulators edge closer to approving two of those vaccines, the commission is asking its 27 nations to get ready to work together to roll them out.

If it all goes to plan, the EU’s vaccine program could go down as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the European project. The EU has suffered a sustained battering in recent years, fueled by the UK’s departure, a surge in nationalist parties, and Euroskeptic attitudes across the continent. And so far, the coronavirus crisis has only exacerbated existing tensions, Kara Fox writes.

ON OUR RADAR

Moses Hoole decorated his Christmas tree with PPE this holiday season to honor his sister who is a health care worker.
  • These doctors and nurses are celebrating the holiday season with Christmas trees adorned with PPE.
  • Most Americans now accept the benefits of wearing masks when around others and say they do so too, according to a survey published Friday.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron’s diagnosis sent ripples through the French and European political sphere, with multiple figures now forced to quarantine.
  • The King of Sweden has condemned the country’s “failed” coronavirus response as cases skyrocket.
  • A new mystery cluster of Covid-19 cases in Australia’s New South Wales continues to grow — health officials think the source could be from overseas.
  • The local government of the South Korean capital Seoul has apologized after a man in his 60s with Covid-19 died while waiting to be admitted to hospital, as the city faces a shortage of beds.

TOP TIPS

Imagine this: Your elderly mother, who has dementia, is in a nursing home and Covid-19 vaccines are due to arrive in a week or two.

You think she should be vaccinated, having heard the vaccine is effective in generating an immune response in older adults. Your brother disagrees. He worries that the development of the vaccine was rushed and doesn’t want your mother to be among the first people to get it.

These kinds of conflicts are likely to arise as Covid vaccines are rolled out to long-term care facilities across the country. Here’s a look at what’s at stake.

TODAY’S PODCAST

“We lined up and they put the sugar cube in a little paper cup and then dropped the medicine on it and you, you know, got your vaccine.” — Jeffrey Sherman, writer and producer

Nearly 60 years ago, Americans witnessed the rollout of a polio vaccine that would change lives and the way we fight disease. Sherman was a child when he took the vaccine, at the time delivered by sugar cube. It turns out that small act inspired an American classic. He talks to CNN writer Tom Lake about the experience and why it’s so relevant today. Listen Now.



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