The first patient enrolled in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine clinical trial is pictured at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore on May 4.
The first patient enrolled in Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine clinical trial is pictured at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore on May 4. University of Maryland School of Medicine/AP

On Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration will meet to decide on authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine candidate.

But health officials warn that while some Americans may receive a vaccine by the end of the year, the country likely won’t see any meaningful impacts until late spring.

In the meantime, experts project an incredibly challenging next few months. The US is nearing 200,000 daily coronavirus cases — and with the recent spike in cases, record hospitalizations have followed. On Sunday, 101,487 patients were in the hospital with the virus, the fifth consecutive day the US surpassed 100,000 hospitalizations.

On Saturday, the US reported more than one million new cases of Covid-19 within the first five days of December.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Americans’ behavior is behind the crippling surge — and health experts warn that it could get worse as the holidays approach.

“People are going indoors, they’re not minding the three W’s,” Azar told Fox News’s Chris Wallace Sunday. “Our advice is always the same. Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear face coverings.”

Azar later told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “We’re worried about people and the behaviors coming up with Christmas … We want to make sure everyone’s loved ones are there next Christmas, especially when we have so much hope of vaccines.”

This morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he, too, is worried about Christmas, saying the holiday could be even more of a challenge” than Thanksgiving, since the season runs for more than a week, from before Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day.

“I hope that people realize that and understand that as difficult as this is, nobody wants to modify – if not essentially shut down – their holiday season, but we are in a very critical time in this country right now.”



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