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VP Pence prepares for jab as Moderna vaccine nears US approval

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a ceremony to commemorate the first birthday of the US Space Force at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex, Friday in Washington. (AP-Yonhap)
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a ceremony to commemorate the first birthday of the US Space Force at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex, Friday in Washington. (AP-Yonhap)
WASHINGTON -- US Vice President Mike Pence prepared to roll up his sleeve for a public coronavirus jab on Friday as the country neared approval of a second vaccine and several European leaders quarantined ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Pence's move comes as inoculation efforts unfurl across the globe, with officials mounting campaigns to quash skepticism about the record-fast development of the jabs.

The vice president's public injection is an effort to "build confidence among the American people" about the safety of the vaccines, the White House said.

Due to be held at the White House, the event caps the country's first week of a mass immunization program against a virus that has killed more than 300,000 Americans.

Worldwide, at least 1.66 million people have died from Covid-19 and more than 74 million cases have been diagnosed, according to an AFP count.

The Moderna shot is now expected to become the second vaccine allowed in a Western country after a panel of US experts recommended emergency use approval, a week after greenlighting the Pfizer/BioNtech jab.

Other leaders around the world are also lining up for on-camera injections to counter small but often vocal anti-vaccination movements.

President-elect Joe Biden, 78, has announced plans to take a vaccine in public soon, while 68-year-old Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would take the domestically-produced Sputnik V jab as soon as it is approved for his age group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also plans to get a public injection on Saturday. (AFP)

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