President Donald Trump announced that the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine could begin as early as next week, while experts warn of 60,000 deaths in the next 3 weeks, and Fauci fears a post-Thanksgiving spike.
During a Thanksgiving holiday message to U.S. troops overseas via teleconference on Thursday evening, President Donald Trump said deliveries of a coronavirus vaccine could begin as early as next week, Fox reported.
“The whole world is suffering and we are rounding the curve,” Trump said. “And the vaccines are being delivered next week or the week after.”
Trump referred to the vaccines as a “medical miracle,” and also said that front-line workers, medical personnel, and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients when it is distributed.
Regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a meeting scheduled for December 10 to review the emergency use authorization for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which trial data appears to show is 90% effective.
Two other firms have developed vaccines, Moderna (trial data shows 94.5% effectiveness) and AstraZeneca (preliminary data shows a range between 62% to 90% effectiveness depending on the dosage administered), but no word as yet on where these are in terms of the FDA approval process.
According to global coronavirus tracking site worldometers.info, on Thursday, there were 108,291 new coronavirus cases and 1,311 deaths in the United States, with the total number of cases since the pandemic began now at 13,253,148 as of early Friday morning.
On Thanksgiving Day, the United States saw its 24th day in a row with over 100,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus. In another milestone on Thursday, for the 17th consecutive day, hospitalizations in America reached a new high. There are now over 90,400 COVID-19 patients nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, CNN reported.
Over the next three weeks, 60,000 Americans could lose their lives, according to an ensemble forecast published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week, CNN reported.
According to an expert who spoke to CNN, the number of daily deaths is likely to double in the next ten days.
“So, we’ll be seeing close to 4,000 deaths a day,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN, “which is how you get another 60,000 deaths in only about 20 days.”
Medical experts are expecting the Thanksgiving holiday travel to create a new surge in COVID-19 cases.
“In a week, more likely two weeks, we will see a surge upon a surge,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, told CNN. “We’re in for a tough time.”
“It we all got together, wore the masks and did the social distancing, we could bend this curve within two or three weeks,” Dr. Schaffner added.
“We would see actually transmission go down even before we get to the vaccines.”
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that Thanksgiving travel could contribute to a huge surge in coronavirus cases that will persist or worsen through December, January, and February.
“If the surge takes a turn of continuing to go up and you have the sustained greater than 100,000 infections a day and 1,300 deaths per day and the count keeps going up and up,” Fauci said in an interview with USA TODAY last week. “I don’t see it being any different during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays than during Thanksgiving.”
Fauci said his own family will likely be scrapping its Christmas plans this year, as they did for Thanksgiving. “Let’s now make the best of the situation and show our love and affection for people by keeping them safe.”
“For my own family, I’m saying we had a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas last year,” Fauci said. “We’re looking forward to a really great Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2021.”