Biden promises to receive Covid-19 vaccine in public
London, Dec. 16, 2020 (AltAfrica)-US President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday that he will receive a Covid-19 vaccination in a public setting and that top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has recommended it be “sooner than later”.
“I want to make sure we do it by the numbers and when I do it, you’ll have notice and we’ll do it publicly,” Biden told reporters before leaving for Georgia to campaign for two Democratic Senate candidates.
President Donald Trump will “absolutely” encourage Americans to take Covid-19 vaccines and will receive one himself as soon as his medical team determines it’s best, McEnany said at a White House briefing on Tuesday.
But the president also wanted to show that vulnerable Americans are the top priority to receive the vaccines, she told reporters.
McEnany said some career national security staff would have access to vaccines to ensure a continuity of government, along with a “very small group” of senior administration officials for the purpose of instilling public confidence.
More than 300,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US and a winter surge is continuing across much of the country.
The country kicked off a mass vaccination drive on Monday and the authorities hope to immunise 20 million people this month, with health care workers and long-term care residents at the front of the line.
Authorities want to reach the rest of the population by summer, but much will depend on vaccine confidence. Experts estimate more than 70 percent of people will need to receive vaccines to stem the outbreak.
Authorisation for rapid at-home Covid test
The US on Tuesday authorised its first rapid at-home test for the virus, which is available over the counter and produces a result in approximately 20 minutes.
The test, made by California-based Ellume, will sell for around $30 and the company plans to roll out 3 million units in January 2021 and millions more in subsequent months.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the emergency-use authorisation represented a “major milestone”.
“We are helping expand Americans’ access to testing, reducing the burden on laboratories and test supplies, and giving Americans more testing options from the comfort and safety of their own homes,” he said.
The Ellume test is an “antigen” test, meaning it works by detecting a surface molecule of the coronavirus, unlike the more common PCR tests that look for the virus’ genetic material.
The test uses a nasal swab that doesn’t go as far back as the nasopharyngeal swabs used in clinical settings. The technology involved is similar to a home pregnancy test.
The test correctly identified 96 percent of positive samples and 100 percent of negative samples in individuals with Covid-19 symptoms, according to the FDA, and 91 percent of positive samples and 96 percent of negative samples in people without symptoms.
The FDA said that for patients without symptoms, “positive results should be treated as presumptively positive until confirmed by another test as soon as possible”.
The home test connects with an app on the user’s smartphone to interpret the results. Results take as little as 20 minutes and are delivered via the app, which requires users to input their zip code and date of birth to report to public health authorities.
Ellume developed the test with $30 million (€25 million) in government funding from the National Institutes of Health.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)