February 18th – According to the real-time statistics of Johns Hopkins University in the United States, as of 7:22 Beijing time on February 18, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States has exceeded 27.8 million, and the number of deaths has exceeded 490,000.
At present, the variant novel coronavirus continues to rage in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that it may lead to a “raptick” of cases in the United States.
In order to prevent and control the pandemic, the authorities plan to allocate more than $1.6 billion to expand the scale of coronavirus testing and the supply of reagents in the United States.
CDC: variant virus may cause a surge in cases across the United States
On the 16th local time, a report released by the CDC showed that at least 1,299 cases of variant virus infection have been reported in the United States, the vast majority (1,277) of which were infected with the B.1.1.7 variant found in the United Kingdom.
Currently, this variant has been found in 41 states in the United States and Washington, D.C.
On the 17th local time, CDC pointed out that the first variant virus found in the United Kingdom is likely to become the main virus in the United States in March.
What’s more, the variant virus may have spread in the United States for a long time.
The report said that none of the eight patients found in Minnesota who had been infected with the variant virus had a history of sojourn in the UK.
Accordingly, the report noted that the identification of these variant virus infections in Mingzhou “highlights the importance of pandemic prevention measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding gathering and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, isolating confirmed patients and close contacts, and following CDC travel guidelines.”
On the same day, another report released by the CDC said that the first B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa may be spreading rapidly in southern Africa.
The researchers said that “the spread of this variant virus raises public health concerns,” because it may be more infectious, thus increasing the number of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Although the spread of variant viruses is worrying, a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine may be called “good news”.
The report released on the 17th local time said that Pfizer’s vaccine is still effective against variant viruses, including the B.1.351 variant found in South Africa.
So far, the United States has received about 56 million doses of vaccine, of which more than 15 million have completed two doses.
Authorities allocate $1.6 billion to expand testing
Also as an important part of pandemic prevention and control, on the 17th local time, the White House announced that it would allocate more than $1.6 billion to increase the supply of COVID-19 test agents and expand testing projects in schools and other places.
“We need extensive and rapid testing to reverse the pandemic,” said Johnson, the White House coronavirus testing coordinator, said at a press conference on the same day.
But we still don’t have enough testing capacity, especially in all the places where testing is most needed.”
Specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Defense Departments will invest $650 million to expand testing in places such as kindergartens to eighth grade schools and homeless shelters.
The Ministry of Health said it would establish a regional coordination center, organize the distribution of test supplies, and cooperate with laboratories across the country, including universities and commercial laboratories, to carry out testing.
In addition, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defense will invest $815 million to increase the production of reagent supplies and raw materials.
The White House also pointed out that CDC will invest another $200 million in its DNA project to help track the variant novel coronavirus in the United States.
CDC plans to increase its sequencing work from 7,000 samples per week to about 25,000 per week.
Johnson said that the move would allow researchers to “discover variant viruses faster and stop further spread”.