Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The United States rounds out half a million corona deaths


– It’s horrible. It’s historic. We have not seen anything close to this in well over a hundred years. Not since the flu pandemic of 1918, US chief of infection Anthony Fauci told NBC television.

– It is unique when you look at the numbers. It’s almost unbelievable, but it’s true, he said.

On Sunday night Norwegian time, Johns Hopkins had registered 498,000 corona deaths, while the overview from Worldometers had long ago given up half a million.

Infection peak in winter

Almost 30 million cases of infection have also been registered. The actual number of infections is still considered to be three to four times higher as a result of low test capacity, and because many infected people never get symptoms.

The United States saw a sharp increase in infection in December and January, which is partly linked to people coming together to celebrate holidays.

After reaching a peak in January, infection rates have been declining. Fauci believes that Americans can still have to wait a long time before life returns to normal.

“I think we’ll see a great deal of normality when we get to the fall and winter, by the end of this year,” Fauci told CNN.

Gradual vaccine progress

Great optimism was also associated with the start of corona vaccination, but in many places progress has been slower than expected.

“There has never, ever, been a logistical challenge with such great consequences as what we are now trying to do, but we will get it done,” said US President Joe Biden last week.

Biden has set himself the goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans during his first 100 days as president. On average, 1.7 million doses are now given every day.

Over 60 million people have so far received their first dose, while 18 million have also received their second dose.

– Put the worst

And despite the grim milestone, there is optimism to be found in several experts.

“I can be wrong, but I do not think we will see a big fourth wave,” said vaccine expert Paul Offit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

– I think we have seen the worst now, he added.

National figures show that the spread of infection has now fallen to the level recorded in October. In California, an average of 7,000 new daily cases are reported, compared to 45,000 this winter.

Herd immunity

Warmer spring weather will also make it easier for people to meet outdoors, which can limit the spread of infection.

But the high numbers of infections and the extent of the pandemic can in themselves also contribute to reduced spread of infection. One in three Americans has now probably been infected with corona, according to Offit, who believes that the country is thus beginning to approach the limit of herd immunity.

The same is believed by epidemiologist George Rutherford at the University of San Francisco in California. He estimates that about half of the residents of Los Angeles County have been infected with coronary heart disease, and that this is the reason why a sharp drop in the number of new cases is now being registered.

“We are talking about something that is beginning to sound and look like herd immunity, even though real herd immunity is far in the future,” Rutherford said.

The threshold for herd immunity is nevertheless considered to be around 90 per cent. But even though the proportion of immune is still far below this in the United States, it helps to curb the spread of infection.

Fear of mutated varieties

However, new mutated coronavirus variants may be an obstacle to flock immunity and vaccine efficacy. The mutated virus variant B117, which was first discovered in the UK, is considered, for example, 50 percent more contagious than the common coronavirus.

– I think this is the biggest crisis we are now facing in the pandemic, said Dean Peter Hotez at Baylor College of Medicine in an interview with the American Medical Association AMA.

– We are facing version 2.0 of the pandemic due to the variants, he said.

But vaccine expert Paul Offit is not as worried. He notices that you do not yet see hospitalizations with people who have previously been infected with corona, or who have been vaccinated.

– We just want to keep people out of hospitals, he said.

– And so far there is no variant that has escaped either disease or vaccine immunity, he added.



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