The United States is preparing to cross the dark bar of 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, at a time when a number of indicators, foremost among which the rhythm of vaccinations, offers glimmers of hope.
• Read also: All the developments of the pandemic
“It’s terrible, it’s horrible”, reacted Sunday immunologist Anthony Fauci, adviser to Joe Biden, to the mention of this macabre level.
“We have not known anything like this for over 100 years, since the 1918 pandemic,” he recalled on CNN. “It’s something that will go down in history. In decades, people will still be talking about that time when so many people died ”.
According to figures from the benchmark Johns Hopkins University, the tally stood at 498,786 dead on Monday at 7 p.m.
The first death from COVID-19 in the United States was announced a year ago, on February 29, 2020. It was about three months before the country crossed the 100,000 death mark.
The threshold of 400,000 deaths was exceeded in January, on the eve of the inauguration of Joe Biden, who made the fight against the epidemic the top priority of his start in office.
“All this grief …”
To illustrate this milestone of half a million deaths, the New York Times chose, in one, an infographic: a large vertical column where each small point represents a dead American. The bottom of the column, which represents deaths in recent months, is almost uniformly black.
“500,000! This is nearly 70,000 more than all the Americans who died during World War II, over a period of four years, ”Joe Biden said on Friday. “All this grief … all this pain … all this pain …”
But during his address at a Pfizer vaccine plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., On 46e President of the United States also stressed that the current pace of vaccinations was hopeful.
With an average of 1.7 million daily injections, which is expected to increase further in the coming weeks, he said he was confident in the ability to reach 600 million doses (enough to immunize the entire population) available by the end of July.
In total, more than 61 million people have so far received one of the two vaccines authorized in the United States (Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna), of which 18 million have had the two required injections.
Another encouraging sign: after a peak in the epidemic in January, the weekly average of deaths and that of new cases are clearly down, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
“We hope this time it’s the right one!”
The polar cold wave and snowstorms that have hit the country for more than a week have nevertheless slowed the vaccination campaign. The distribution of 6 million doses has been delayed and the 50 US states are impacted by these delays due to bad weather, detailed Andy Slavitt, White House adviser on the fight against the coronavirus, on Friday.
Elsewhere in the world, where more than 205 million doses of COVID vaccines have been administered, governments are also relying on injections to roll back the pandemic.
In Australia, the vaccination campaign got into the heart of the matter on Monday: some 60,000 doses are ready to be injected this week, with healthcare workers, police officers, employees of quarantine hotels or residents of nursing homes. elderly.
This launch was clouded, however, by anti-vaccine protests held in some major Australian cities and by hostile reactions from some spectators at the Men’s Open tennis final on Sunday.
Some 20,000 doses of Sputnik V – intended for medical teams – also arrived Sunday in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza from the United Arab Emirates and via the Egyptian border.
In Israel, the country most advanced in terms of vaccination, shopping centers and street shops were reopened Sunday for the entire population, as part of the third deconfinement since the start of the pandemic.
“We hope this time it’s the right one!” says Mordehai Nazarian, 34, who opened his shoe store in Tel Aviv after several months of closure. “We wait for people to arrive, we only ask to serve them,” said the energetic man, happy to return to work.
In Europe, Germany – partially confined since November – on the other hand called for caution after an increase in infections, when schools reopen on Monday.
“We are seeing the numbers increase again. It’s boring and it creates some uncertainty. Therefore, we must continue to be careful, to test and to vaccinate ”, urged the Minister of Health, Jens Spahn.
In Italy, it is the variants and the gatherings of the weekend, favored by a particularly mild weather, which worry.
“I’m worried, obviously. The resurgence of contagions is due in large part to the English variant, ”said Massimo Galli, one of the most eminent Italian virologists, in an interview published on Sunday by the Roman daily. The messenger. “All the data points in the direction of the increase in new cases.”
The pandemic has killed more than 2.46 million people worldwide since the end of December, out of more than 111 million confirmed contaminations, according to a report established by AFP on Sunday in the middle of the day.
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