National News

US surpasses 10m COVID-19 vaccinations

More than 10 million Americans have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the year-old pandemic roars on unchecked.

The United States reached 10.2 million inoculations on Wednesday one day after the CDC and Trump administration gave new guidance to US states on who should receive the shots first.

Strict rules putting healthcare workers first in line had slowed the rollout. Now states are urged to vaccinate anyone over 65 as well.

The milestone came as the United States set another record for coronavirus deaths in one day, with 4336 fatalities on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday said the administration was releasing its full stockpile of two vaccines approved for emergency use, including some that had been held in reserve to make sure that second doses could be given on schedule.

Nearly 30 million doses of the vaccines, manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer with its German partner BioNTech, have been released to US states, which have used only about one-third of them.

Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday that the pharmaceutical company was on track to roll out its single-shot vaccine in March.

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Dr Paul Stoffels also said J&J expected to meet its stated target of delivering one billion doses of its vaccine by the end of this year.

Political leaders and health officials nationwide have scrambled in recent days to push out more vaccines to residents, many lowering the age requirement to 65. California and New York have each pledged to inoculate one million residents this month.

New York has recorded nearly 40,000 coronavirus fatalities since the pandemic broke out there in March, more than any other US state.

Nationwide more than 380,000 people have died of COVID-19. A total of 22.7 million have been infected during that time.

The number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalisation may have levelled off at least temporarily, although public health officials warn further spread may still be seen from holiday gatherings.

California, the nation's most populous state, has seen new hospitalisations drop this week. More than 30,000 Californians have so far died of COVID-19 related illness.

© AP 2021