FDA advisory board to meet on Pfizer vaccine this week

VACCINE VIALS: A potential COVID-19 vaccine was in the testing stage in New Orleans, as shown on Sept. 28. Guam's first batch of COVID-19 doses will arrive shortly after the Food and Drug Administration's approval. An FDA advisory board is meeting on Dec. 10. Photo courtesy Department of Defense.

The new number of COVID-19 vaccines Guam is expected to receive by the end of this month has nearly tripled from earlier estimates.

Initially, Guam received word from its federal partners that about 2,000 vaccines would arrive in the first shipment for Guam. After that, Guam received an update there would be more than 4,000. And just last week, the latest update was Guam could receive 7,000 if not more, said Janela Carrera, spokeswoman for the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services, who added the number of vaccines and arrival have been changing.

The first batch for Guam will be the Pfizer Inc. vaccine, which requires a special ultra-cold storage and handling system. Carrera said the government of Guam has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help Guam with a cold-storage system for the vaccine.

Across the country, the COVID-19 vaccine should be given first to health care workers and senior citizens in group home settings, an advisory panel recommended to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.

The recommendations for the highest priority groups, known as phase 1a, will be sent to CDC Director Robert Redfield, who also informs Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the Post reported, adding officials are working to meet a Friday deadline for vaccine-distribution planning.

Guam committee

On Guam, the prioritization for who gets the vaccine first will be further detailed by the Vaccine and Antiviral Prioritization Policy Committee, according to a draft plan Guam's Public Health submitted to the CDC on Oct. 22. Public Health is updating and finalizing the plan after feedback from CDC, Carrera said.

The Guam committee's members have yet to be named.

The Pfizer vaccine awaits FDA approval for mass use.

United Airlines last week began operating charter flights to position doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for quick distribution if the shots are approved by regulators, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has said Guam's COVID-19 Area Risk Score has fallen below 5 and with the vaccines that are coming soon, she's optimistic about Guam's ability to keep COVID-19 under control.

The Joint Information Center, on Wednesday night, reported a CAR Score of 3.4. 

JIC also reported 31 new COVID-19 cases confirmed out of 752 tests conducted. Guam now has a total of 6,920 cases since tests started in March. There have been 112 deaths linked to the virus. 

The number of COVID-19 patients is dropping at local hospitals. What used to be more than 90 at one point is now 38, according to the JIC.

The Guam Memorial Hospital has 34 patients with eight patients in the intensive care unit and six of those on ventilators. The Guam Regional Medical City has four COVID-19 patients, two of whom are in ICU with one of those on a ventilator.

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