5/5 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Family and friends gather for the funeral of Gregory Blanks, who died of COVID-19 2/5
By Sangameswaran S (Reuters) – More than half a million people have died of coronavirus in the United States, as the country rushes to vaccinate its most vulnerable residents before new variants of the deadly disease become widespread. More people have died in the United States from COVID-19 than in any other country in the world. At 4% of the world’s population, the United States has 20% of all COVID deaths and one of the highest death rates per 100,000 inhabitants, surpassed only by a few countries such as Belgium, the United Kingdom and Italy. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi) Unlike many countries around the world that had national closures and masking mandates, former US President Donald Trump left public health decisions to state and local governments, resulting in a patchwork of rules that often contradicted the advice of doctors and health officials. After many end-of-the-year gatherings without masks, January became the pandemic’s deadliest month yet, with an average of 3,000 people dying every day. With a total death toll of more than 500,000, one in 673 US residents has succumbed to the pandemic. Global deaths have reached 2.57 million or one in every 3,000 people on the planet. The United States has reported more than 28 million cases to date, about 25% of all infections worldwide. After peaking at nearly 300,000 new cases in a single day on January 8, the United States now reports about 70,000 new infections each day. However, new variants of the virus threaten to interrupt the path to normality. Authorities have also warned that most of these cases are of a more transmissible variant first discovered in the UK called B.1.1.7, which could become the dominant variant in the US in March. Health officials are also concerned about a variant first identified in South Africa called 501Y.V2, which has multiple mutations in the important “spike” protein that current vaccines target. VACCINES: A SILVER COATING About 15% of the US population has received at least one dose of vaccine so far and more than 63 million doses have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . At the current rate, the United States would take more than nine months or until the end of November this year to vaccinate 75% of the country’s population. Even if the current rate were to double, it would still take until the beginning of July to vaccinate 75% of residents. In early February, the Biden administration said it is exploring options to increase manufacturing of Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE 🙂 COVID-19 vaccine, which is a single injection and can be stored in a refrigerator. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc vaccines require two doses and the Pfizer (NYSE 🙂 vaccine requires special freezers. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is under review by the U.S. health regulator, and a panel of experts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to discuss the vaccine’s emergency use authorization this week. . However, US President Joe Biden said in early February that it will be difficult for the United States to achieve herd immunity, at least 75% of the vaccinated population, by the end of this summer. Launching vaccines has been challenging as the Trump administration left it up to states to design and implement their own launch plans. The United States also lacks a national health care system and often relies on grocery stores and pharmacy chains to provide immunizations. This has led to a growing disparity between states in the progress of vaccination, including that blacks and Hispanics are delaying receiving vaccines. In many parts of the country, long lines and waiting hours were not uncommon. White House officials said last week that the country is 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine behind due to inclement weather that hit much of the United States.