The newly authorized covid-19 vaccine will begin shipping out to American hospitals on Sunday, though people in the United States will be grappling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic long after they’ve been vaccinated.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday night, per The New York Times, leaving millions of Americans poised to receive their first of two doses by the end of next week. This news comes after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is said to have threatened FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn with termination if he didn’t get the vaccine approved by Friday, The Washington Post reports, though Hahn has denied that characterization of events.
As for which millions of Americans will begin vaccination in the coming days, army general Gustave Perna of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s accelerated vaccine development program, told the Associated Press that the decision will be left to health officials. It is expected that health care workers, particularly those who treat covid patients directly, as well as long-term care facility residents and staff will be prioritized in the process.
While news of the Pfizer vaccine’s authorization is promising given the events of the past year, we won’t see much of an impact in our day-to-day lives for a long time. As Sarah Zhang wrote in The Atlantic on Friday, we are likely entering into what she calls a “vaccine purgatory” while we wait through the months that it will take to get enough people in the U.S. vaccinated in order to resume some semblance of pre-pandemic life—though with nearly 7 million renter households unable to pay rent, according to ABC News, and as many as 14 million American households at risk for eviction, per CNN, we’ll be grappling with the coronavirus pandemic and our government’s utter failure to help us survive it for years, even decades to come.
There have been more than 15.7 million covid-19 cases in the U.S. thus far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with nearly 300,000 deaths total. Daily death tolls continue setting horrifying new records every day, with states reporting more than 3,000 covid deaths for the first time on Wednesday, New York magazine reports.