The US is passing an ‘incredible’ milestone of 500,000 Covid-19 deaths

U.S. death toll from pandemic coronavirus has exceeded 500,000, highlighting the devastation of the pandemic as officials race to roll out vaccines as soon as possible to prevent on another increase.

The solemn milestone comes almost a year after the country’s first recorded death from the virus. The U.S. death tax of 500,071 is virtually the highest in the world, and almost double the number of 246,504 deaths in the country with the second highest number of deaths, Brazil, according to data from Johns Hopkins University .

After a start-up wave last spring that disturbed the northeast, followed by a summer surge in solar belt states, coronavirus and hospital cases became the worst increase after Thanksgiving Day, which lasted through the holiday season and into January.

The daily death toll passed more than 4,000 several times in January, making it the deadliest month of the pandemic in the U.S., with more than 94,000 confirmed deaths.

“This is a truly tragic loss,” said Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, saying the loss of 500,000 Americans was “incredible” a year ago.

President Joe Biden orders flags at the White House and on federal property to be lowered to half-mast for the next five days out of respect for the victims and is asked Americans to gather in a moment of silence at a candlelight ceremony at noon Monday, where comments are expected to be delivered.

There have been promising signs in recent days that the U.S. has finally managed to smooth the path of the disease down after a few months of punishment that saw hospitals overflow and caused a wave of nationwide restrictions.

Coronavirus hospitals are now down about 58 percent since it peaked in January, to 56,159, according to Covid Management Project data. Over the past week, the U.S. has reported an average of 64,301 infections per day, a 74 percent drop from a high of 247,000 in early January.

Almost every state is seeing a reduction in those metrics, helping to bring the seven-day average of deaths below 2,000 per day for the first time since early December. Despite the encouraging move, some of the most populous states in the U.S. – California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia – still experience an average of more than 100 deaths per day.

Things are also expected to fall as vaccines are more widely distributed. More than 44m Americans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although there were some delays with severe winter storms last week – causing the average seven-day vaccination drop to 1.46m as of February 17 – Biden’s administration is still on track to meet the 100m dose target arrive within his first 100 days in office.

One potential downside of U.S. development is the emergence of new, more contagious variants of the virus, which could affect the effectiveness of the country’s vaccine-accelerated transmission.

Hospitals were under severe pressure as a result of the Covid-19 © AP patient wave

Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, warned last week that the B.1.1.7 variant, first detected in the UK, “tends to be the strongest pressure” in the US in the UK. months ahead and reiterated a call for Americans. to avoid unnecessary travel.

Combined with other factors such as the reduction of state restrictions or a reduced sense of urgency to get vaccinated as case movements “feel and look a little better”, a new variety could march on the country’s efforts to bring the pandemic under control, she said.

Although new series have crossed some countries such as the UK and South Africa, the US is still counting the number of reported cases in the thousands. The CDC reported that 1,661 cases of B.1.1.7 were detected across 44 states; 22 cases of 501. V2, first found in South Africa; and five of P1, who came from Brazil.

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However, these figures could be very scarce as the U.S. is only beginning to increase its genomic study, hampering its ability to understand how conventional changes are spreading and new ones to emerge. appear.

So far, Covid-19 vaccines have been able to deal with the variability initially detected in the UK, but there are growing concerns about whether South Africa’s pressure will undermine the immune responses. comes from the vaccine. New changes also put the doctors ’device box in Covid-19 patients at risk, as they may render antibody treatment ineffective.

Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease doctor at Johns Hopkins, said the decline in hospital had made his hospital life “easier to manage”. Now, he thought the challenge was to remove roadblocks to roll out the vaccines as soon as possible.

US vaccine releases will be boosted by new jobs to be released next week, starting with Johnson & Johnson, which is likely to receive emergency approval after the regulator held its advisory meeting on Friday.

California farm workers wait to receive BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine © Bing Guan / Bloomberg

J&J plans to deliver 100m doses to the U.S. in the first half of 2020. However, Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the Biden Administration, said J&J would not significantly increase supply in the short term.

In the spring, the Food and Drug Administration is likely to consider the vaccines from Novavax and Oxford / AstraZeneca for approval, which could, collectively, stimulate supply up to 400m. The Biden administration has already prescribed enough doses to give all Americans a full vaccine.

Experts were divided about the potential impact of the new variables, Jha Brown University said. Some fear the US will catch a wave like those seen in the UK, Denmark and Portugal. But others, including Jha, are hopeful that the U.S. will be able to see the coming and take preventative measures, while benefiting from being later in the release of the vaccine.

Either way, policymakers need to be vigilant in the key period of the next two months, he said.

“This is not the time to start calm policies. It is not the time to say, ‘We will open restaurants and bars’. Now is the time to stay relatively hunted so that we have a lot more clarity on where this is going, ”said Jha.