COVID-19 live updates: US reaCOVID-19 live updates: US reaches 50 million confirmed casesches 50 million confirmed cases

(NEW YORK) — As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, more than 5.3 million people have died from the disease worldwide, including over 798,000 Americans, according to real-time data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

About 60.9% of the population in the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Dec 14, 6:45 am
Pfizer says COVID-19 pills could be FDA authorized by end of year

Pfizer’s forthcoming COVID-19 treatment could be authorized for emergency use in the United States by the end of this year or early next year, pending the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory timeline, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told ABC News.

The pharmaceutical giant announced Tuesday that it has submitted promising new data to the FDA, including lab experiments showing its oral antiviral medicine, Paxlovid, will likely work against the omicron variant. And in updated clinical trial data, Pfizer found the treatment reduces the risk of being hospitalized or dying by 89% when taken within three days of being diagnosed with COVID-19, and 88% when taken within five days of being diagnosed among high-risk, unvaccinated patients.

“It is a game changer,” Bourla told ABC News. “But at the same time, I want to emphasize that no one should use the existence of the pill as an excuse to avoid vaccination.”

Bourla said the medicine could save thousands of lives.

“We did some calculations how many deaths or hospitalizations can be avoided based on the current U.S. mortality rates and the current U.S. hospitalization rates,” he said. “On the back-of-the-envelope calculation, we estimate that 100,000 people if they take the pill, we will avoid 6,000 hospitalizations and 1,200 deaths approximately.”

-ABC News’ Sony Salzman

Dec 14, 5:57 am
France mulls tightening entries from UK due to omicron

France is considering tightening restrictions for travelers arriving from the United Kingdom, where the omicron variant appears to be spreading swiftly.

“Regarding Britain, the current rule is to show a negative test less than 48 hours old in order to enter France,” French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told France Info radio on Tuesday. “But we are always looking at means to tighten the framework, we are currently working on that and we should, I think, come to a conclusion in the coming days.”

Dec 14, 5:44 am
Mainland China confirms 1st case of omicron variant

China has confirmed its first case of the omicron variant on the mainland, state-run media reported Monday.

The variant was detected in a traveler from overseas who arrived in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin on Dec. 9. The individual tested positive for COVID-19 last week and subsequent genome sequencing confirmed it was the omicron variant.

The patient, who showed no symptoms, is being treated in isolation at a hospital, according to state-run media.

Dec 14, 5:31 am
UK reports 1st death from omicron variant

At least one person has died in the United Kingdom after being infected with the omicron variant, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday.

It’s the first publicly confirmed death globally from the new variant of the novel coronavirus, which was initially identified in southern Africa last month and has since spread rapidly around the world. Deaths from omicron may have already occurred in other countries but no others have been publicly confirmed yet.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to a vaccination clinic in London, Johnson said the death was a patient who had been diagnosed at a hospital but gave no further details.

“Sadly, at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with omicron,” the prime minister said. “So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus, I think that’s something we need to set on one side and just recognize the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population. So the best thing we can do is all get our boosters.”

Dec 13, 9:59 pm
NFL to require vaccinated Tier 1 and 2 employees receive boosters by Dec. 27

The NFL will require that all its vaccinated Tier 1 and 2 employees receive their COVID-19 booster shots by Dec. 27, according to a memo they sent all 32 teams on Monday.

This group of employees includes coaches and other employees who work closely with players and help in essential league operations.

“On November 29, the CDC issued a study showing that the effectiveness of the approved COVID-19 vaccines may decrease over time and has recommended that all eligible vaccinated individuals over the age of 18 should receive a booster shot,” the memo reads. “Given the increased prevalence of the virus in our communities, our experts have recommended that we implement the CDC’s recommendation.”

The memo came as 36 players were added to the league’s COVID-19 reserve list. Players are currently not required to receive boosters, but in Monday’s memo, the NFL said clubs should consider making boosters available for players and their families.

“Any individual who is not currently subject to the requirement for boosters will be required to obtain the booster within 14 days of becoming eligible,” the memo reads.

-ABC News’ Katie Conway

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