See how fast states are delivering COVID-19 shots, and get the latest vaccine updates

In an effort to increase the number of Americans getting vaccinated, President-elect Joe Biden plans to curtail the current practice of holding back vaccine doses to guarantee that people who get their first shot can also get a required second inoculation three weeks later.

The announcement came as the U.S. recorded its highest daily death toll — topping 4,000 — since the pandemic began.

World Health Organization experts have issued recommendations saying that the interval between administration of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be extended to up to six weeks.

Also, state and local governments are expected to receive their first infusion of federal money to support vaccination efforts against the coronavirus later this month, providing a potential boost to an effort that has gone slower than expected in some states.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said $3 billion for vaccine efforts should go out to states by Jan. 19, along with $19 billion of additional aid for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.

Some good news

New research suggests the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech can still work against a mutated coronavirus.

Two easier-to-spread new variants of the virus have the world on edge. One was discovered in Britain, the other in South Africa, but they share a common mutation. Pfizer researchers say lab tests show that mutation doesn’t block the vaccine. But more tests are needed to see if an additional mutation is cause for concern. The preliminary study was posted on an online research site late Thursday and has not been reviewed by other experts.

Conflicting advice on tests

The nation’s second-largest city said it will keep using a coronavirus test that federal regulators warned may produce false results while Congress, which has used the same test, is seeking an alternative.

The different responses Thursday followed a Food and Drug Administration alert to patients and health care providers that Curative’s test could particularly produce false negatives.

Those faulty results pose the biggest risk from a health perspective because people who are erroneously told they don’t have the virus can unknowingly spread it to those around them. The California-based company said it was working to address the FDA’s concerns.

Watch Now: Nurses cope with virus surge

Facing a massive surge in cases, California has been issuing waivers allowing hospitals to temporarily bypass the nation’s only strict nurse-to-patient ratios. Nurses say that being forced to take on more patients is pushing them to the brink of burnout and affecting patient care. At least 250 of about 400 hospitals in California have been granted 60-day waivers. They allow ICU nurses to care for three instead of two people and emergency room nurses to oversee six patients instead of three. Nurses in other states have demanded law-mandated ratios like those in California but so far have failed to get them.

Stories to watch this weekend

Religious leaders at the forefront of the anti-abortion movement in the United States are telling their followers that the leading vaccines available to combat COVID-19 are acceptable to take, given their remote and indirect connection to lines of cells derived from aborted fetuses.

Many countries are going through new winter waves of the virus, but Britain’s is among the worst, and it comes after a horrendous 2020. Almost 3 million people in the U.K. have tested positive for the coronavirus and nearly 80,000 have died — 30,000 of those in the last month. The economy has shrunk by 8%, more than 800,000 jobs have been lost and hundreds of thousands more are in suspended animation. It is one of the worst outcomes in the world, and much of the blame has been laid at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s door.

The latest numbers

According to data through Jan. 7 from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 2,595.1 on Dec. 24 to 2,764.1 on Jan. 7.

DEATH TOLL: The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. stands at 365,625.

QUOTABLE: “Just today we had two deaths on this unit. And that’s pretty much the norm. I usually see one to two every shift. Super sad. They fight every day, and they struggle to breathe every day even with tons of oxygen. And then you just see them die. They just die.” — Caroline Brandenburger, COVID-19 unit at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California