U.S. gets closer to vaccine approval, after Canada

As coronavirus cases in the U.S. soared past the 15 million mark - overwhelming hospitals and forcing new restrictions in pockets across the country - approval of a vaccine could be just around the corner.

A panel of outside advisors are set to vote, Thursday, on whether to recommend the FDA issue an emergency authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Health officials predict a swift green light - enabling the U.S. to join Britain, Bahrain - and now Canada - which approved the vaccine, Wednesday, saying "it is safe, effective and of good quality.”

Now attention shifts to the U.S. - where approval rests with the FDA - an agency that U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says you can trust.

“If the United States Food and Drug Administration says that a vaccine is safe and effective, I can promise you that I will take that vaccine myself, and I will recommend that my family does that."

In a virtual conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Wednesday, Fauci hailed the coming vaccines but warned Americans not to let their guards down:

GUPTA: “If you’ve been vaccinated, you probably still need to wear a mask, am I right? Because you could still be carrying the virus and potentially transmitting it even if you’re less likely to be sick yourself.”

FAUCI: “Absolutely. There’s no doubt… So wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowds - that should all stay as we get into a vaccine..."

A vaccine can't come soon enough for many Americans, like California’s Jim Albrecht:

“I feel real confident. I’ll be there day 1 (to get a vaccine).”

Health professionals are preparing for the rollout… like the University of Wisconsin-Madison health system, which recently began training staff on how to mix and administer it.

The help is urgently needed.

The U.S. averaged over 2000 deaths and over 200,000 new cases each day for the past week, a staggering toll that U.S. health officials warn is likely to accelerate.

Video Transcript

- As coronavirus cases in the US soared past the $15 million mark, overwhelming hospitals and forcing new restrictions in pockets across the country, approval of a vaccine could be just around the corner. A panel of outside advisors are set to vote Thursday on whether to recommend the FDA issue an emergency authorization of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

Health officials predict a swift green light, enabling the US to join Britain, Bahrain, and now Canada--

HOWARD NJOO: At last, we have a reason to feel optimistic.

- --which approved the vaccine Wednesday, saying it is safe, effective, and of good quality. Now attention shifts to the US, where approval rests with the FDA, an agency that US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says you can trust.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: If the United States Food and Drug Administration says that a vaccine is safe and effective, I can promise you that I will take that vaccine myself. And I will recommend that my family does that.

- In a virtual conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Wednesday, Fauci hailed the coming vaccines, but warned Americans not to let their guards down.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA: If you've been vaccinated, you probably still need to wear a mask. Am I right? Because you could still be carrying the virus, potentially transmitting it, even if you're less likely to get sick yourself.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: Absolutely. There's no doubt. So wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowds-- that should all stay as we get into the vaccine program.

- A vaccine can't come soon enough for many Americans, like California's Jim Albrecht.

JIM ALBRECHT: So I feel real confident. I'll be there day one.

- Health professionals are preparing for the roll-outs, like the University of Wisconsin Madison health system, which recently began training staff on how to mix and administer it. The help is urgently needed. The US averaged over 2,000 deaths and over 200,000 new cases each day for the past week, a staggering toll that US health officials warn is likely to accelerate.