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US Covid-19: after devastating step, vaccine manufacturers promise hundreds of millions of doses until July

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“It pains me … when I see things like asking people to do the kinds of things you know to work – wearing a mask, physical separation – and denial,” said Dr Anthony Fauci. , director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

It was “really painful for me” to see hospitals overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, he said, and “in those same areas there were people who denied that this was happening saying,” Oh , this is fake news, this is a hoax. I mean, how could you say when people in your own state, your own town, your own county die? “

“Here we are today, looking at 500,000 Americans who have died so far,” Fauci said.

“This is proof of what really happened. You can’t deny it.”

The United States’ Covid-19 death toll is by far the highest of any country – and more than double that of Brazil, which, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, has the second highest number deaths linked to the virus. Experts said several factors contributed to an unnecessarily brutal pandemic, including a lack of clear messages from the country’s leaders, state and local leaders easing restrictions too quickly, large holiday celebrations and continued resistance to the pandemic. wearing masks or social distancing.

The race for vaccination

The United States can expect to have a total of 240 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of March, according to prepared remarks from vaccine makers to be given to a subcommittee of bedroom.

Pfizer and Moderna – the two companies with Covid-19 vaccines cleared for emergency use in the United States – have pledged to make a combined total of 220 million doses available for shipment by the end of the month Of March.

That would be enough to immunize 110 million Americans, since both vaccines require two doses.

Johnson & Johnson, which has yet to receive emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine, has pledged to make 20 million doses available within the same amount of time. His vaccine only requires one dose.

Pfizer said it plans to increase the number of doses available for shipment from about 4 million to 5 million doses per week in early February to more than 13 million doses per week by mid-March.

“We are on track to make 120 million doses available for shipment by the end of March and an additional 80 million doses by the end of May. And we expect the 300 million contract doses will be available for shipment by the end of July. , allowing the vaccination of up to 150 million Americans, ”the company said in its prepared remarks.

Moderna, the other company with an approved Covid-19 vaccine, said it was on track to deliver 100 million doses by the end of March and that it plans to double monthly deliveries by April to over 40 million doses per month.

“Based on this progress in scaling up manufacturing, we recently agreed to increase our delivery schedule: we now aim to deliver a second 100 million doses by the end of May and a third one hundred million doses by the end of July, ”Moderna said in his prepared remarks.

Two other Covid-19 vaccine makers who have yet to receive emergency clearance have also made plans.

What the United States must do now

Emergency physician Dr Leana Wen said this step was a reminder of “all the lives we could have saved”. And now she says she’s worried about what might happen.

“My biggest fear right now is complacency,” Wen said.

While states across the country can report encouraging trends, experts including Wen have warned that now is absolutely not the time to let go – especially with the coronavirus variants in circulation.

“The best way for us to get back to normal is to double down right now, not to throw away our masks, not to eat inside, not to do other things that we know can be at risk of. revive epidemics, ”said Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center.

“The majority of people in this country, despite previous infections and despite two months of the vaccine, the majority of people still have no protection against Covid and can be infected,” he told CNN. “It’s not over and we have to overtake.”

This means continuing to hide, social distancing, avoiding crowded areas, washing your hands regularly and applying the safety measures that have so far helped curb the spread of infections.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr Rochelle Walensky said that while the numbers are moving in the right direction, “cases, hospital admissions and deaths remain at very high levels.”

New cases have declined steadily for five weeks, Walensky said on Monday. But the United States continues to add tens of thousands of new infections a day. February alone saw more than two million new cases of Covid-19.

Hospitalizations have fallen since their peak on January 6 by more than 132,400 patients with Covid-19. But more than 55,400 people remain hospitalized with the virus, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

And every day, hundreds of lives are lost due to Covid-19. More than 1,300 deaths were reported Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins – and more than 52,000 have been reported this month.

“Although the pandemic is headed in the right direction, there is still a long way to go,” Walensky said.

Study: smell and taste after Covid-19 may not return for months

And for many people who have survived a bout with the disease, the symptoms persist.

In fact, Canadian researchers reported on Monday that people’s smell and taste may not return for five months after becoming infected with coronavirus.

A team from the University of Quebec has surveyed more than 800 healthcare workers who have tested positive for the virus. They rated their smell and taste on a scale of zero to 10 and some were asked to take a home test to further assess these senses.

During the initial infection, more than 70% of survey participants reported losing their sense of smell and 65% reported losing their sense of taste, the researchers said in the preliminary results.

Five months later, when they used a home test, 17% of participants said they still had a loss of smell and 9% of people had a persistent loss of taste.

“Our results show that an altered smell and taste can persist in a number of people with Covid-19,” said Dr Johannes Frasnelli of the University of Quebec, who worked on the study. , in a press release.

“This highlights the importance of tracking those who have been infected and requires further research to discover the extent of neurological problems associated with Covid-19.”

CDC announces emergency vaccine advisor meeting

Meanwhile, as the United States rushes to get more gunfire, another vaccine may soon get the green light for the U.S. market.

Johnson & Johnson announced earlier this month that it has applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its one-dose Covid-19 vaccine.

On Friday, an FDA advisory group will discuss the application and the company’s data. Based on the adviser’s advice, the FDA may choose to green light the vaccine. Next, CDC advisers will discuss their own recommendations for vaccine deployment, which will then need to be formally accepted by the CDC.

The CDC has announced an emergency meeting of its vaccine advisers from February 28 to March 1.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson will testify on Tuesday that it can deliver enough doses by the end of March to immunize more than 20 million Americans, helping to supplement the country’s existing supply.

So far, more than 44 million Americans have received at least their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data.

About 19.4 million received both doses, the data shows. That’s less than 6% of the American population.

CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Naomi Thomas, Amanda Watts, Christopher Rios, Jen Christensen and Michael Nedelman contributed to this report.

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