The United States could be hours away from starting its COVID-19 vaccination program. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reportedly could authorize on Friday or Saturday the emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by U.S. drug maker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech. An FDA advisory panel voted to recommend approval of the vaccine late Thursday. With the U.S. on the verge of its inoculation program, human rights group Amnesty International’s director of economic and social justice issued a warning.  Steve Cockburn told The New York Times, “Rich countries have clear human rights obligations not only to refrain from actions that could harm access to vaccines elsewhere, but also to cooperate and provide assistance to countries that need it.”Food and Drug Administration building is shown Dec. 10, 2020 in Silver Spring, Md.The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said early Friday there are 69.7 million worldwide COVID-19 infections, with 1.6 million deaths. The U.S. continues to lead the world in the number of cases with 15.6 million infections, followed by India with 9.7 million and Brazil with 6.7 million. Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said for the next two or three months, the virus in the U.S. could kill as many people every day who died during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S. or the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941. A health care worker at LAC USC Medical Center swabs a person at a drive-through testing center during the coronavirus outbreak, in Los Angeles, California, Dec. 10, 2020.The daily U.S. death toll passed the 3,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday.Elsewhere, Australia has abandoned a massive order for a locally produced COVID-19 vaccine after it was discovered that the vaccine was producing false positive HIV results during a trial. 
And Germany’s interior minister says his country needs to go into a lockdown now to stop the spread of COVID-19. Horst Seehofer told Der Spiegel magazine, “The only chance to regain control of the situation is a lockdown, but this must happen immediately. If we wait until Christmas, we’ll have to struggle with high numbers for months.” 
 

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