The nearly one-year coronavirus pandemic is full of gloomy numbers, but Wednesday brought encouraging numbers – more than a million people received their first injection of Covid-19.
And that reported number is low because many doses administered in recent days are still not tables on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency said.
“With cases of COVID-19 continuing to grow across the country, this achievement comes at a critical time and will help protect those at the forefront – our healthcare professionals treating patients with COVID-19 – as well as our most vulnerable: the elderly who live in the care of homes and ancillary living facilities “, said the director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield.
The government has said it intends to distribute the first 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in the coming weeks. About 9.5 million doses have been distributed so far.
“It has been a big week of vaccine delivery,” General Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, told reporters on Wednesday. “Over 7,800 deliveries by the end of tomorrow, because we are delivering the 7.9 million doses of vaccine that have been given for this week across the country – a really huge feat.”
Perna said about 15.5 million doses of the vaccine have been given, and the next 4.5-5 million will be given next week.
“We will complete those deliveries in the first week of January,” he said.
Health officials like dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said vaccines would help put the pandemic behind us – but most Americans, who will not be vaccinated until next year, must be vigilant with a mask and measures of social exclusion in the next few months.
Vaccination of nursing homes is expected to increase
Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and two major drugstore chains, Covid-19 vaccines have reached 238 long-term care facilities in 12 states, Perna said.
“Walgreense and CVS are receiving cheering crowds and operationalizing their efforts to make sure everyone is shooting,” Perna said during a press briefing.
Perna said that another 13 states and another 1,000 institutions with residents who need long-term care will receive doses of the vaccine next week.
“Every week we just upgrade on that,” he said.
Chief Scientific Adviser for Operation Warp Speed has predicted that officials will begin to record a decline in the number of people dying as more people are vaccinated than the most vulnerable.
“Within two weeks of the start of immunization of subjects living in long-term care facilities, we should begin to see a decline in overall mortality in the country,” Moncef Slaoui said.
It is reasonable to assume that the protection against serious disease provided by both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will turn into death prevention, Slaoui said.
He said the priority should be to maximize the number of people in long-term care facilities who are vaccinated.
“A dose of the vaccine is enough to immunize more or less 3 million individuals living in such facilities,” Slaoui said.
Surge has seen cases, and now death and hospitalization are on the rise
Thousands more families have just lost a loved one this holiday season as the U.S. reported its second highest number of coronavirus deaths in a single day – 3,401 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
And by Wednesday night, another 3,300 deaths had been announced.
Hospitalizations at all times amounted to 119,463.
In nine states, more people are hospitalized with Covid-19 than at any other point of this pandemic: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, New Hampshire and North Carolina, according to the Covid Tracking project.
Doctors say many of the deaths that occurred were probably prompted by Thanksgiving trips gatherings, because death from Covid-19 usually occurs a few weeks after infection.
“We were preparing for this and hoped we were wrong,” said Dr. Esther Choo, professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.
“But every holiday was similar. And Thanksgiving, we saw the journey that happened then. And people who have been hospitalized in ICUs are still dying – many of them because of the wave of gratitude. “
Health experts like Choo and Fauci say the next 10 days could cause even more infections, hospitalizations and deaths than Thanksgiving.
“Now we have an extended holiday between Christmas and New Year. And according to AAA estimates, although this year’s travel is about 30% lower than last year, that still means 84 million people will travel during the holidays, ”Choo said.
“And it’s not just travel, but also what’s happening on the other side – where they travel – which is full of family and friend gatherings. So I think we are already preparing for the outcome of that, which will be by the end of January, by February. … And I have no doubt it will be a surge wave at the top. “
The new strain has probably already spread to the United States
The mutated strain of the new coronavirus is a worldwide concern – including whether it is more transmissible and whether current Covid-19 vaccines will work against it.
“I think I can be mostly soothing,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
“First of all, this is not a surprise. This virus is an RNA virus. “RNA viruses tend to slowly change their instructions over time, which results in the appearance of such types of variants,” he said.
“The good news is that the antibodies that this vaccine generates are quite effective in terms of binding to several parts of the protein class. So, if there is a change in it – which the mutant did – we would expect the vaccine to continue to be effective against it. “
Pfizer and Moderna, manufacturers of two vaccines currently deployed in the U.S., said they were testing their vaccines to see if they worked against the new strain, which was first discovered in the UK.
Scientists advising the British government have estimated that the new strain could be up to 70% more portable than the other variants.
Peter Horby, chairman of the Advisory Group on New and New Respiratory Threats to Viruses (NERVTAG), said Monday that experts “now have great confidence that this variant has an advantage in transmission” over other variants.
The British variant does not appear to cause more serious disease, and it appears that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will continue to be effective.
So far, the strain “has not been identified by sequencing efforts in the United States, although the viruses have been sequenced from only about 51,000 of the 17 million U.S. cases,” the CDC said on Tuesday.
“Given the small proportion of U.S. infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without being detected.”
Some researchers think the strain probably arrived in the U.S. in mid-November and that many people in the U.S. could already be infected with it.
“If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably hundreds of people by now,” said Michael Worobey, head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Arizona.
“It’s very possible he arrived multiple times in multiple places.”