An increase in coronavirus cases in 75% of the US is a ‘troubling trend’ – but ‘hope is underway’ with vaccines expected to be available to vulnerable Americans by the end of the year, health officials say.
- CDC and HHS officials held a now rare COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday
- Officials acknowledged a ‘troubling trend’ in rising coronavirus cases in 75% of US states, blaming pandemic fatigue and rallies going in
- HHS Secretary Alex Azar said “hope is coming” in the form of vaccines that will be issued an emergency permit in a matter of “weeks or months”.
- He said the US should have enough doses for all vulnerable people by the end of the year, with enough injections for all Americans who want them by the end of March.
US health officials on Wednesday promised that “there is hope” in the form of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments expected by the end of the year, but acknowledged a “troubling” upward trend in US cases.
Coronavirus infections are on the rise in about three-quarters of the US states, said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Butler, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar blamed this nationwide increase on meetings moving indoors and poor adherence to infection control guidelines such as masking.
They hoped for vaccines to be available in “weeks or months,” as well as antibody treatments like the one President Trump received.
When urged whether Trump’s break with top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci would undermine confidence in a vaccine, Azar said the conflict had nothing to do with the reliability of the science driving vaccine research, underlining the series of five ‘vaccine safety checks’. ‘in place in the approval process.
Azar also defended allegations that his own agency had undermined the CDC, saying that critics [worked in] an agency like this and don’t appreciate that. ‘
CDC and HHS officials said at a briefing on Wednesday that the increase in coronavirus cases is “ poignant, ” but said they will have a vaccine available for vulnerable Americans by the end of the year
During Wednesday’s press conference, the promises and warnings already made by the HHS and CDC were largely echoed.
“For the past week, we’ve seen nearly 60,000 cases a day, as well as 700 deaths,” Butler said.
The increase in cases was accompanied by a sense of fatigue and perhaps false safety after the relatively low rates of late summer and early fall, with more people seeing friends and family, ‘especially as these meetings are moved indoors and the sticking to face coverings may not be. optimal, ‘added Dr. Butler adds.
“We are all getting tired of the impact COVID-19 has had on our lives, we are getting tired of wearing masks, but it remains as important as it ever has been.”
Azar closed his warning, saying, ‘As we make exciting progress in vaccines and therapies, we see trends across the country.
“Hope is getting close in the form of safe and effective vaccines within weeks or months.”
But he added that the “Three Ws” – washing hands, keeping a distance and wearing a mask – are the “bridge” between the current pandemic conditions and the advent of vaccines.
Trials of vaccines conducted by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have been suspended in the US due to potential side effects.
The head of Operation Warp Speed, Dr. Moncef Slaoui said on Wednesday that these processes could resume next week. Officials attending the briefing were found not to be aware of Dr. Slaoui’s statement.
The officials said they anticipated the approval of one or more vaccines and would have adequate doses for all of the “vulnerable” Americans by the end of the year.
Azar expects sufficient doses to be available to all seniors and health professionals by the end of January.
All other Americans who want to get vaccinated against COVID-19 should be able to do so by the end of March, he said.
Officials reiterated that the partnership between the US government and pharmacy giants Walgreens and CVS would help ensure that older Americans in nursing homes, as well as nursing home staff, have access to vaccines.
All states and territories of the US have now filed their plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines with the CDC pending urgent approval for one or more shots, the officials said.