“It does … it hurts me when I see things like appealing to people to do things that you know work – the mask wears, the physical separation – and the denial,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
It was “actually painful for me” to see hospitals overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, he said, and “in the same regions, there were people who denied that this was going on and said, ‘Oh, that’s fake news, it’s a nap.’ . ‘I mean, how could you say that when people in your own state, your own city, your own county die? “
“Here we are today looking at 500,000 Americans who have died so far,” Fauci said.
“It’s the proof of what actually happened. You can not deny it.”
The race to vaccinate
The United States can expect to have a total of 240 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of March, according to prepared comments from vaccine manufacturers that will be given to a House committee on Tuesday.
Pfizer and Moderna – the two companies with Covid-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in the US – have promised to make a total of 220 million doses available for delivery by the end of March.
That would be enough to vaccinate 110 million Americans, as both vaccines require two doses.
Johnson & Johnson, which has not yet received an emergency use permit for its Covid-19 vaccine, has promised to make 20 million doses available within the same timeframe. Its vaccine requires only one dose.
Pfizer said it expects to increase the number of doses available for delivery from about 4 million to 5 million doses per week in early February to more than 13 million doses per week in mid-March.
“We are in the process of making 120 million doses available for delivery by the end of March and another 80 million doses by the end of May. And we estimate that all 300 million contracted doses will be made available for delivery by the end of July enabling vaccination of up to 150 million Americans, the company says in its prepared comments.
Moderna, the second company with an authorized Covid-19 vaccine, said it is about to deliver 100 million doses by the end of March and plans to double monthly deliveries by April to more than 40 million doses per month.
“Based on these advances in increasing production, we recently agreed to move up our delivery timeline: we now aim to deliver another hundred million doses by the end of May and a third hundred million doses by the end of July,” said Moderna in their prepared comments.
Two more Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers who have not yet received an emergency permit have made plans.
What the United States needs to do now
Emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen said the milestone was a reminder of “all lives we could have saved.” And now she says she’s worried about what might come.
“My biggest fear right now is complacency,” Wen said.
“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 indoors, not to do other things that we know could risk resuming outbreaks,” says Dr. Craig Spencer, Head of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center.
“The majority of the people in this country, despite previous infections and despite two months of vaccination, the majority of people still have no protection against Covid and can become infected,” he told CNN. “This is not over and we must double.”
This means that one continues to mask, social distance, avoid cramped areas, regularly wash hands and practice the safety measures that have so far worked to limit the spread of infections.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that while the number could go in the right direction, “cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain at very high levels.”
New cases have been steadily declining for five weeks, Walensky said on Monday. But the United States continues to add tens of thousands of new infections daily. In February alone, more than two million new cases of Covid-19 were seen.
And every day hundreds of lives are lost for Covid-19. More than 1,300 deaths were reported on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins – and more than 52,000 have been reported this month.
“While the pandemic is going in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to be done,” Walensky said.
Study: Smell and taste after Covid-19 may not return in several months
And for many people who survived a battle with the disease, the symptoms continue to linger.
In fact, Canadian researchers reported on Monday that people’s sense of smell and taste may not return for up to five months after being infected with coronavirus.
A team at the University of Quebec examined more than 800 healthcare professionals who tested positive for the virus. They ranked their sense of smell and taste on a scale from zero to 10 and some were asked to perform a home test to further evaluate these senses.
During the first infection, more than 70% of those surveyed reported losing their sense of smell and 65% reported losing their sense of taste, researchers said in preliminary results.
Five months later, when using a home test, 17% of participants said they still had odor loss and 9% of people had persistent taste loss.
“Our results show that a decreased sense of smell and taste can persist in a number of people with Covid-19,” says Dr. Johannes Frasnelli from the University of Quebec, who worked on the study, in a statement.
“This emphasizes the importance of following up on people who have been infected, and need further research to discover the extent of neurological problems associated with Covid-19.”
The CDC announces an emergency meeting for vaccine advisors
Meanwhile, as the United States competes for more weapons, another vaccine may soon be given the green light for the US market.
On Friday, an FDA advisory group will discuss the company’s application and data. Based on the advisor’s guidance, the FDA may choose to give the vaccine the green light. CDC advisers will then discuss their own recommendations regarding the development of the vaccine, which must then be formally accepted by the CDC.
The CDC announced an emergency meeting for its vaccine advisers from February 28 to March 1.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson will testify on Tuesday that they can deliver enough doses by the end of March to vaccinate more than 20 million Americans – helping to increase the country’s existing supply.
Approximately 19.4 million have received both doses, the data show. That is less than 6% of the US population.
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Naomi Thomas, Amanda Watts, Christopher Rios, Jen Christensen and Michael Nedelman contributed to this report.
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