More than 100,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States so far this year, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of January 1, the United States has reported a total of 100,317 deaths linked to Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths reported in the United States since the start of the pandemic to 446,689 on Tuesday evening.
The first death related to Covid-19 occurred on February 29, 2020 in Washington state. Later in the spring, two previous deaths in California were posthumously confirmed to be from Covid-19.
The United States has had more Covid-19-related deaths than any other country, according to JHU data. Brazil has recorded more than 200,000 deaths. Mexico, India and the United Kingdom have all reported more than 100,000 deaths.
There are now more vaccinations than reported cases
The number of people who have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is now higher than the number of Covid-19 cases in the United States reported throughout the pandemic.
More than 26.3 million cases have been reported in the past year, according to Johns Hopkins University.
And in less than two months, more than 26.4 million doses of the vaccine were administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But that doesn’t mean the pandemic is going away. Here’s why:
- The number of coronavirus infections may be four times higher than the number of actually reported cases, researchers say. In mid-January, the CDC estimated that the United States had actually recorded 83.1 million cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. “Even after adjusting for underreporting, a substantial gap remains between the estimated proportion of the infected population and the proportion infected needed to achieve herd immunity,” the researchers wrote.
- Highly contagious new variants are spreading across the United States, threatening to re-infect people who have previously had the coronavirus.
- Only about 1.84% of the US population has received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. And it will take at least several months before most Americans can get vaccinated.
As part of the federal retail pharmacy program, chains CVS and Walgreens will begin administering vaccines starting next week. The White House has listed 21 national drugstore chains that will participate in the initial phase of the program.
Although CVS and Walgreens have received vaccines in some states using supplies from those states, this is the first time that CVS and Walgreens will receive the vaccine directly from the federal government.
“ This doesn’t sound like great news for the effectiveness of vaccines ”
While viruses are constantly mutating, a few variants in particular worry scientists:
– The B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the UK, which may be up to 70% more transmissible than others
– Strain B.1.351 identified for the first time in South Africa, which could somewhat reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine
Video: Doctors say approved single-dose vaccine would be a welcome help (CNN)
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– The P.1 strain detected for the first time in Brazil, which is suspected of fueling a resurgence of Covid-19 in this country
All three variants have been found in the United States, and the B.1.1.7 strain has been detected in at least 32 states.
Johnson & Johnson chief scientist Dr Paul Stoffels told CNN’s Richard Quest on Tuesday that the world needs to vaccinate as many people as possible to limit the number of coronavirus variants.
“If we don’t get the pandemic under control quickly, variants will start to emerge and continue to emerge, resulting in more vaccinations each year,” Stoffels said. “The mission is to bring the virus under control so that it cannot mutate, and that it cannot grow and create new versions.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not yet cleared, but the company said it will apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization this month.
Scientists have now discovered a mutation in at least 11 samples of the B.1.1.7 strain that could escape antibody protection, according to a report released Monday by Public Health England.
The mutation, called E484K, was already part of the genetic signature of variants linked to South Africa and Brazil.
A new lab study has found that antibodies from vaccinated people were less effective at neutralizing a synthetic virus resembling samples of B.1.1.7 that had developed an E484K mutation.
“This doesn’t sound like great news for vaccine effectiveness,” said Joseph Fauver, associate researcher in epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.
Experts say this news could mean that the strain B.1.1.7, already known to be more transmissible, could be somewhat resistant to the protection offered by vaccines, or more likely to cause reinfection in people who were previously infected.
Previous studies suggest that E484K may be the main reason why some vaccines appear to be less effective in South Africa. Laboratory research has also shown that the antibodies appear less able to bind and neutralize the spike proteins resulting from the mutation.
Likewise, Dr Anthony Fauci told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Tuesday that officials need to keep an eye out for variants because they could become a problem if they become dominant.
“One of the wilds Chris, that we have to watch out for is the mutations, the mutants that are out there, because if they become dominant then that can then lead to another outbreak, but the best way to keep them from being becoming dominant is doubled on public health measures, ”Fauci said.
However, Fauci said that “if” Americans double their public health measures and continue to vaccinate, the country is expected to continue to see a downward trend.
Former FDA Scientist: Stop Using Convalescent Plasma For Covid-19
The United States should stop using convalescent plasma to treat the coronavirus because it could help the virus evolve into new, potentially more dangerous variants, a former pandemic advisor on Biden’s transition team said.
Convalescent plasma – taken from the blood of Covid-19 survivors – just doesn’t work well and allows the virus to continue to replicate and evolve in patients’ bodies, said Dr Luciana Borio, a long-time consultant. date in biodefense with US administrations. .
“As a further measure to reduce the chances of the virus developing more mutations that could escape the immune system, I would encourage the US Food and Drug Administration to revoke the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) it has issued. last year for convalescent plasma, “Borio said in written testimony submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee ahead of a hearing Wednesday.
Last August, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19, saying “the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.”
“We already know that, overall, this therapy does not help patients with COVID-19. But by using it in circumstances where it doesn’t work, we are providing the virus with a roadmap that could help it develop mutations that elude the vaccine induced immune responses even faster, ”Borio wrote. , who is currently vice president of strategic investment firm In-Q-Tel.
“Convalescent plasma has been used in over 150,000 patients despite the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommendations that its use should be limited to randomized controlled trials, and maintaining the possibility that its blind use could add more pressure. selective on the virus and hasten the day when vaccines become less effective, ”said Borio, who is also a former acting chief scientist at the FDA.
Pfizer to deliver 200 million doses of vaccine 2 months ahead of schedule
The maker of one of two vaccines currently administered in the United States confirmed on Tuesday that it plans to deliver 200 million doses to the United States by the end of May.
Pfizer was initially expected to deliver the 200 million doses by July 31. But CEO Albert Bourla said last week he expects the company’s production to be two months ahead.
“In the United States, we had promised to deliver 100 million doses by the end of the first quarter and we will be able to deliver 120 now,” Bourla said last week.
“The same goes for the second quarter. We were planning to deliver them up to 200 million doses by the end of the second quarter, in fact at the start of the third. At present, we will be able to deliver the 200 million doses two months earlier. ”
The Biden administration has announced that it will purchase an additional 100 million doses from the company.
Pfizer said it delivered 20 million doses to the United States on Sunday.
The Pfizer vaccine and the vaccine manufactured by Moderna require two doses, spaced 21 days and 28 days apart.