A Possible Vaccine Timeline

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Good morning. The C.D.C. announces its suggested vaccine priorities, and we offer a timeline of when you can expect to get one.

Who goes first?

A panel of scientific advisers yesterday released its initial guidelines for who should receive the first coronavirus vaccines — recommendations that will influence states’ policies across the country.

The obvious question on many people’s minds is: When can I expect to be vaccinated? While there is still a lot of uncertainty, it’s possible to lay out a rough expected timeline. I’ve done so below, with help from public health experts and colleagues who are covering the virus.

December: Health care workers and nursing home residents will likely be the first people to receive the vaccine, as the panel recommended.

Up to 40 million doses could be available to Americans before the end of this year, from a combination of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines. That would be enough to vaccinate the three million people who live in long-term-care facilities, as well as most of the country’s 21 million health care workers.

January: Keep in mind that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require a second dose a few weeks later to be effective. So an initial batch of 40 million doses would be enough to vaccinate only 20 million people.

By early next year, Pfizer and Moderna are likely to be able to ship about 70 million doses per month, Moncef Slaoui, a top federal vaccine official, told The Washington Post yesterday. People will likely receive the shots at doctor’s offices, hospitals and pharmacies, as well as at specially created clinics in some places, my colleague Katie Thomas says.

February and March: The next priority groups are likely to be people over the age of 65 (and especially those over 75); people with medical conditions that put them at risk of death if infected; and essential workers, like those in education, food, transportation and law enforcement.

One exception to this second wave of vaccine recipients may be people who have already had the virus, making them immune from it for at least some period of time.

If other companies in addition to Pfizer and Moderna receive approval for their vaccines, the total number shipped each month could reach 150 million by March, Slaoui said.

April, May and June: The most likely scenario is that even people who don’t qualify as a priority — like healthy, nonessential workers younger than 65 — will begin receiving the vaccine by the spring. The vast majority of Americans could be vaccinated by early summer.

Once that happens, life will still not immediately return to normal, partly because the vaccines are not 100 percent effective. “There will still be risks to people,” as Caitlin Rivers, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, told me.

But those risks will be small compared with today’s risks. Treatments continue to improve, reducing the death rate for people who get the virus. And widespread vaccination will sharply reduce the spread, helping protect even people for whom a vaccine is ineffective. Rivers predicted that social gatherings will again be common and largely safe by the summer.

All things considered, the spring isn’t that far away, which is yet another reason for people to make extra efforts to avoid unnecessary risks — like eating inside restaurants and gathering indoors with friends — for the next few months.

What questions do you still have about the vaccines? Tell us here, and we’ll answer some of them in an upcoming newsletter.


The Virus

The explosive growth of cases in California could overwhelm the state’s hospitals, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned, and some may need to start turning away patients by Christmas.

Britain approved Pfizer’s vaccine, making it the first Western country to allow mass inoculations against Covid-19.

New Hampshire’s state legislature will meet outside and socially distanced on a field hockey pitch today to limit the risks of infection.

It’s holiday party season at the White House. The invitations make no mention of the virus and masks are optional.

Since the start of the pandemic, state and federal courts in New York City have completed only nine criminal jury trials, compared with about 800 last year. As a result, hundreds of defendants are stuck in city jails.

The Presidential Transition

Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department had not uncovered any evidence of voter fraud that could have changed the outcome of the presidential race, contradicting President Trump’s false assertions.

Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Rudy Giuliani. The most notable previous example was Gerald Ford’s pre-emptive pardon of Richard Nixon.

President-elect Joe Biden urged Congress to pass an economic relief bill before the end of the year. Lawmakers exchanged new proposals, but prospects for a deal were still dim.

Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia elections official and a Republican, tore into Trump and Republican senators for failing to denounce threats of violence against people overseeing the election in his state: “Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.”

Other Big Stories

Salesforce plans to buy Slack, the maker of popular workplace chat software, for $27.7 billion. It’s part of a run of acquisitions by tech companies hoping to capitalize on the shift to remote work.

Barr named John Durham a special counsel in the ongoing investigation of the origins of the F.B.I. investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. The distinction ensures that Durham can continue the inquiry under the Biden administration.

Rival political factions in Iran have spun contradictory accounts of how the country’s top nuclear scientist was assassinated, including a claim that a remote-controlled machine gun sprayed him with bullets. The factions seem to be trying to dodge blame for security lapses.

Elliot Page, the Oscar-nominated star of the 2007 movie “Juno,” announced that he is transgender. “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life,” he said.

China landed a robotic spacecraft on the moon to collect rocks and dirt. China would be the third nation to bring back lunar samples, after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.

Morning Reads

A Morning read: A 1,020-year-old mochi shop in Kyoto, Japan, has endured wars, plagues and natural disasters, offering a lesson in resilience.

From Opinion: Farhad Manjoo has a column, and Thomas Friedman talks with Biden.

Lives Lived: In the 1990s, the conservation biologist Georgina Mace rewrote the global Red List, which describes which species are in trouble, and warned that the world must restore its ecological balance or pay a steep price. Dr. Mace has died at 67.

Subscriber support helps make Times journalism possible. If you’re not already a subscriber, please consider becoming one today.


The best albums of 2020

“Musicians are people too,” as Jon Pareles, one of The Times’s pop music critics, says, “so all the things that affected listeners — the pandemic, the protests, the election, the disappearance of concerts — clearly affected the music that appeared in 2020.”

This morning, The Times published its list of the year’s best albums, and you can see some of those big 2020 themes in it. The list includes entries that Taylor Swift and Charli XCX produced at home during quarantine. There were also intensely personal works by artists including Fiona Apple and Burna Boy, as well as albums that veered introspective and political, like Run the Jewels’ latest.

One broader trend: The distinctions between genres are breaking down. “The lines between pop, pop-punk, autotuned R&B, hip-hop — those lines that felt really real in the ’90s, ’80s and even in the 2000s — don’t make sense if you’re 20 or under,” Jon Caramanica, a pop music critic for The Times, says. “For younger artists, those kinds of boundaries and stiff rules are not really a thing.”

You can find the best albums of 2020 here, along with lists focused on jazz and classical music.


What to Cook

This recipe for frosted holiday sugar cookies is foolproof. (And here’s a guide to packing and mailing some to loved ones.)

Best of Theater

From “Hamlet” to musicals on TikTok, read about some of the most innovative theater of the year.

Virtual Travel

Pretend you’re in Tokyo: Listen to the funky music of Cornelius, make crispy nori chips and read books by Japanese authors beyond Haruki Murakami.

Late Night

The late-night hosts joked about Barr.

Now Time to Play

The pangrams from yesterday’s Spelling Bee were mobility and immobility. Today’s puzzle is above — or you can play online if you have a Games subscription.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: They’re dropped in the Boston accent (three letters).

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. Forbes named Astead Herndon, a Times reporter who covers national politics, to its annual 30 Under 30 list.

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about Biden’s pick for secretary of state. On the latest “Popcast,” how streaming and social media changed hip-hop.

Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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