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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're living in a pandemic split screen: There are now two coronavirus vaccines in the late stage of development that appear to be highly effective. But the first Americans will likely receive them against a backdrop of yet-to-be-seen pandemic horrors.

Why it matters: The end of the pandemic is increasingly in sight. But today's case counts all but ensure that the U.S. won't make it there without the nightmare scenario of overrun health systems all across the country.

Driving the news: Moderna announced yesterday that its vaccine is nearly 95% effective — a week after Pfizer made a similarly encouraging announcement.

  • Moderna also said its vaccine appears to have prevented severe infections, a detail left unaddressed in the Pfizer announcement.
  • Additionally, it appears to have protected elderly participants and participants of color — groups ravaged by the pandemic.
  • It's still unclear how long the immunity offered by either vaccine would last. That has implications for manufacturing and how frequently people would need boosters, as well as for the ongoing risk of transmitting the virus, as STAT notes.

What we're watching: Both vaccines will likely file for emergency authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration over the next few weeks, and the two companies combined are expected to produce enough doses for 35 million people by the end of the year.

Yes, but: The number of doses Moderna is expected to produce this year "won't even cover all of America's frontline health care workers," tweeted Angela Rasmussen, a virologist with Georgetown University. "So my take home message is we still have many months to go."

Go deeper

Operation Warp Speed leader: COVID vaccine push is "isolated from a political environment"

Moncef Slaoui in the Rose Garden on Nov. 13. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Moncef Slaoui, the White House's top scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, told Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the Trump administration's efforts to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine is "isolated from a political environment" and that a change in administration "doesn't, frankly, make a difference" on its efficacy.

Why it matters: Slaoui told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he has not yet had contact with Joe Biden's transition team, as the president-elect prepares to inherit one of the country's biggest crises ahead of an expected vaccine distribution effort that would require massive logistical cooperation between states and the federal government.

In photos: Americans wait at food banks before Thanksgiving

Residents line up in their cars at a food distribution site in Clermont, Fla., Nov. 21. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Thousands of Americans waited in long lines at food banks in the week before Thanksgiving to pick up turkeys, canned goods, broccoli and other vegetables.

Why it matters: As the holiday season approaches, families across the U.S. are in need of food assistance due to chronic unemployment and economic hardship caused by COVID-19 — and many food pantries already served an unprecedented number of people this spring.

California governor and family in quarantine after coronavirus exposure

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) tweeted late Sunday that he and his family are quarantining after being exposed to COVID-19.

Details: Newsom said they learned Friday that three of his children had come into contact with a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for the coronavirus. "Thankfully, the entire family tested negative today," Newsom said.