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Dr. Anthony Fauci Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci is encouraging Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine if it becomes available, regardless of which one it is.

Why it matters: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will be administered in a single shot instead of two doses as required by the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, is expected to soon receive emergency authorization. Fauci said people should not wait to take the marginally more effective vaccines if the Johnson & Johnson shot becomes available to them.

  • "This is a race… between the virus and getting vaccines into people” the nation’s top infectious disease expert told NBC News Thursday. "The longer one waits on getting vaccinated, the better chance the virus has to get a variant or mutation."

Fauci also said he anticipates “nothing but good news” on Friday when the Food and Drug Administration will vote on the authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

If the FDA issues an emergency use authorization "without delay,” White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said J&J will have 3 million to 4 million ready for distribution next week.

The big picture: The U.S. government has struck an agreement with J&J to provide 100 million doses by the end of June.

Go deeper

Feb 24, 2021 - Health

Moderna says vaccine for South Africa COVID-19 variant ready for testing

A doctor drawing the Moderna vaccine into syringes in Central Falls, Rhode Island, on Feb. 13. Photo: Joseph Prezioso

Vaccine producer Moderna announced Wednesday it is sending doses of a new vaccine designed to better protect against the coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa to the National Institutes of Health for a Phase 1 clinical trial.

Why it matters: The trial is a major step toward producing and distributing a vaccine specifically designed for the South Africa variant, which may spread faster and more easily than the original coronavirus strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Updated Feb 24, 2021 - Health

First COVID-19 vaccines distributed by COVAX arrive in West Africa

Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The first COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed by the World Health Organization’s global sharing scheme COVAX arrived in Ghana, West Africa, on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The shipments represent the "beginning of what should be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history," per a joint statement from the WHO and UNICEF hailing the arrival as a "momentous occasion."

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.