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Fauci: Most vulnerable people will likely receive first COVID-19 vaccine doses by the new year

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts, said Thursday that some of those Americans who are most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus will likely have access to the first doses of a safe vaccine in December or January, Reuters has reported.

Dr. Fauci, speaking on a Facebook and Twitter livestream with director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins, said that those people who need the vaccine the most will likely receive the first doses of it “by the end of December or the beginning of January” assuming vaccine developers don’t experience any major delays.

The two leading participants in the race to develop a vaccine are the companies Pfizer and Moderna. Both companies have already been running clinical trials on humans for months, with the final stage having commenced back in July. Based on their estimates, Fauci said that it will likely be known “sometime in December whether or not we have a safe and effective vaccine.”

This comes as Moderna announced Thursday that it has already amassed $1.1 billion in deposits from multiple governments for a potential vaccine that it’s preparing to launch soon across the globe. It has been developing the vaccine with the assistance of the National Institutes of Health.

Additionally, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks said on a Thursday earnings call that their trial is operating according to schedule and that an independent data-monitoring committee is expected to conduct an interim review in November, The Hill reports.

Pfizer, on the other hand, has experienced some delays. The company, according to Reuters, was originally expected to publish its interim data in October but is now doubtful that it can announce the data before the end of the month. Ultimately, that data might be released after the U.S. presidential election on November 3.

Assuming the trials yield a safe and effective vaccine, before the first doses can be distributed in the United States, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have to review the data and then offer their suggestions regarding which individuals should receive the first doses.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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Joe Biden

President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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