America gets a strong warning from a top adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, Dr.Michael Osterholm who delivered a stern holiday message “no Christmas parties” and said, “ the next three to six weeks at a minimum – are our Covid weeks.” Dr.Michael Osterholm is a top member of the coronavirus advisory board. He warned they face a covid-19 blockade for weeks to come despite the latest move towards U.S government approval of a vaccine. He said,” It won’t end after that, but that is the period right now where we could have a surge upon a surge repeatedly.”
Osterholm strongly stressed that it would be several months before the nation sees widespread availability of vaccines, the first of which cleared a key U.S regulatory barrier on Thursday. The U.S is currently awaiting FDA approval which will give way for a mass vaccination campaign which is to be launched as early as next week. The advisory panel is due to review a second vaccine from Moderna Inc next week.
Delivery giants United Parcel Service and FedEx Corp. scooch by to ship millions of doses to distribution staging areas under contract with the federal government, giving top priority to the vaccines. The Pfizer vaccines require storage in ultra-cold freezer units and must be prepared for injection and given quickly once thawed. This poses special challenges to medical authorities.
“We only have six hours to actually use the vaccine,” Dr. Stephen Dohi, chief pharmacist at the Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, said. However, Osterholm said fairly large quantities of vaccines would not be available to the public, before March or April next year. Healthcare workers and nursing home residents are likely to be designated as first in line for the shots. Osterholm’s blunt admonition came as COVID-19 caseloads mounted higher, straining healthcare systems in cities and small towns across the country and leaving intensive care units in hundreds of hospitals at or near capacity.
He urged Americans to do their utmost to slow the contagion by limiting social interactions to members of their immediate households, and above all, “No Christmas parties.” He also said, “There is not a safe Christmas party in this country right now”. Health officials have voiced frustration that millions of Americans shrugged off urgent appeals to limit travel and social gatherings over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, even as the pandemic was already raging unchecked, despite all the warnings.”
On Wednesday the daily toll of COVID-19 deaths in the United States surpassed 3,000 and 3,253 fatalities for the first time. This shows that it even exceeded the loss of life from Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and pushed the total number of Americans killed by the virus since the start of the pandemic to more than 290,000. A record 106,878 people were hospitalized with the highly contagious respiratory virus as of Thursday night, which is up at least 18% over the past two weeks. Pandemic hot zones are boundless both in rural areas and cities alike.
In California’s San Joaquin Valley agricultural region, less than 2% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds remain unoccupied, the California Department of Public Health reported on Thursday. Available ICU capacity throughout the most populous U.S. state has fallen to just 7.7%. Besides the staggering human cost, the pandemic has shattered the U.S. economy as well. Many Americans have resisted public health directives to wear face coverings in public and avoid large crowds.
Although the vaccine is seen as a crucial weapon in ultimately hammering the virus, experts caution that its impact will be gradual due to initial supply limitations.“It’s not going to be like a light switch on and off,” said Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of the NYU Langone Health Vaccine Center and a lead investigator for the Pfizer trials. “It’s going to be more like a dimmer switch, “ he added.