Coronavirus News LIVE Updates: Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said he understands concerns around the speed at which pharmaceutical companies have produced Covid-19 vaccines, but insisted that no corners had been cut. As Britain on Tuesday became the first Western country to start a mass coronavirus vaccine campaign, using the new Pfizer-BioNTech jab, Bourla said people should feel confident that it is safe and effective. "We didn't cut any corners," he told a virtual media briefing hosted by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA). The vaccine, based on new technology, has been tested "in the exact same way as we are testing any vaccine that is circulating out there," Bourla assured. In fact, he added, "this vaccine actually was tested, because of the scrutiny, with even higher standards in terms of how we do things."
Here are the latest updates on coronavirus:
• President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday laid out his plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic during his first 100 days in office, saying his administration would vaccinate 100 million Americans, push to reopen schools and strengthen mask mandates. Biden, who formally introduced his public health team on Tuesday, also announced he would nominate retired Army General Lloyd Austin as the country's first Black defense secretary.
• Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he will wait his turn for the COVID-19 vaccine, as officials detailed a plan that prioritizes healthcare workers and the elderly to receive the first doses. "I'm going to wait for it to correspond to me, for it to be my turn, according to the program," Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference, adding that healthcare workers must be protected first because they are risking their lives. Under the plan, 67-year-old Lopez Obrador will be in the fourth phase. People over 80 will be second in line after health workers, followed by those over 70, then those over 60. The goal is to vaccinate at least 75% of the population over the age of 16 by the end of 2021 and to conclude inoculations by the first quarter of 2022.
• US coronavirus cases crossed the 15 million mark on Tuesday as regulators moved a step closer to approving a COVID-19 vaccine and Britain started inoculating people, offering hope of slowing a pandemic that killed 15,000 Americans in the last week alone. Record cases in at least three states - Arizona, Alabama and Ohio - pushed the cumulative case load to over 15 million, according to a Reuters tally of state and county data. With the virus showing no sign of abating, leading health officials are once again sounding the alarm of further spread when people gather for the year-end holidays.
• President Donald Trump celebrated the expected approval of the first U.S. vaccine for the coronavirus Tuesday as the White House worked to instill confidence in the massive distribution effort that will largely be executed by President-elect Joe Biden. Trump said the expected approvals are coming before most people thought possible. “They say it’s somewhat of a miracle and I think that’s true," he declared.