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North America observes the holiday epidemic + mutant virus: the epidemic prevention in the United States faces a double test

North America observes the holiday epidemic + mutant virus: the epidemic prevention in the United States faces a double test

△Medical staff treat patients with COVID-19 Photo Source: Los Angeles Times

As of the 27th local time, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States has exceeded 19 million, and according to the current trend, it is likely to reach 20 million at the dawn of the new year. At present, the United States is facing a very complex situation. On the one hand, holiday travel may cause the number of infected people to soar again, and on the other hand, the mutation of the novel coronavirus may cause greater hidden dangers of epidemic prevention. Several experts have recently repeatedly warned that the United States is at a “very critical moment” in the fight against the epidemic.

Several experts warned that the epidemic would worsen after the holiday.

The “Darkest Day” has not yet arrived.

Fauci, an infectious disease expert, warned again on the 27th that the number of confirmed cases in the United States will peak “one after another” after the festival, and the epidemic prevention situation will become worse in the coming weeks. Fauci told CNN that the “darkest day” has not yet arrived. He echoed the statement of President-elect Biden of the United States. Biden stressed last week that to be honest, the situation of the fight against the epidemic in the United States is not optimistic, and Americans should be prepared, because the “darkest days” are still ahead.

December has become the deadliest month since the outbreak of the epidemic in the United States, with at least 63,000 Americans dying of COVID-19, almost one-fifth of the total number of deaths. Several experts pointed out that the important reason for the rapid deterioration of the epidemic in December was that a large number of people went to party during the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November, and the autumn and winter flu season were combined, resulting in the rapid spread of the virus.

The ensuing New Year’s traditional holiday made experts worry more about the situation in January. According to the estimates of the transportation department, 85 million people traveled this holiday season, and the airport recorded more than one million passengers for many consecutive days. On the 27th, there were 1.284 million air passengers, the highest one-day record since March 15. Former FDA chief Gottlieb warned on CBS News on the 27th that the rise in hospitalizations would lag weeks after new cases, and that “we will face a severe month”.

The foreseeable peak of the epidemic in January has not yet arrived, and the U.S. health care system is already overwhelmed. The number of hospitalizations nationwide has exceeded 100,000 for 26 consecutive days, and according to the data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the 28th, the proportion of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units has been steadily increasing since the end of September, and has now reached 40%.

The impact of mutant viruses is still unpredictable.

Not only does the “holiday epidemic” threaten the future of epidemic prevention in the United States, but also the mutant novel coronavirus found around the world is also a hidden danger.

Gottlieb said that the mutant coronavirus may have appeared in the United States and may already have a considerable number. He believes that the United States needs a better way to sequence and track viral strains: “In the United States, we do not sequence enough samples, and much sequencing work is done in private laboratories and will not be aggregated into public databases. This needs to be solved.” In the UK, they are sequencing about 10% of all samples. In the United States, we only did 1% of the sequencing.”

The new mutant COVID-19 has a series of mutations, according to the CDC. Based on these mutations, it has been predicted that the mutant virus has a faster transmission ability. According to the WHO, most people infected with mutant COVID-19 are under the age of 60. Elizabeth Cohen, a senior medical reporter of CNN, believes that this may be one of the reasons for its rapid spread. People under the age of 60 are often asymptomatic after infection, so they will maintain normal socialization. Activity, causing the virus to spread faster.

Because of the characteristics of the mutant coronavirus, holiday travel will have more serious consequences. Many experts call on Americans to try not to travel, so as not to infect their families and friends without knowingly.

At present, the United States is highly dependent on vaccines for the fight against the epidemic. Officials and experts of the Trump administration have said that the vaccine is effective against the mutant coronavirus, but pharmaceutical companies are still cautious. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, was “cautly optimistic” about the effectiveness of the company’s vaccine last week. He said that some data showed that the new strain of the virus was equally sensitive to the vaccine, but the research is still under way and will be completed in 10 days.

Meanwhile, the spread of mutant COVID-19 may mean that more people need to be vaccinated. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, Pfizer’s German partner, said that the traditional view is that about 60% to 70% of vaccination rates can achieve herd immunity. However, if mutant COVID-19 is more contagious, it may require a high vaccination rate to ensure that society returns to normal life.

Anti-epidemic faces two prominent contradictions

At present, the United States is facing two prominent contradictions in the fight against the epidemic. On the one hand, the vaccine distribution and vaccination are not as fast as expected. According to Bloomberg, the United States has already been immunized with 2 million doses, and although there may be delays in reporting everywhere, it is obviously far from the government’s target of “20 million vaccines by the end of the year”. The reality is that the pace of vaccination will be slower than claimed, according to former Food and Drug Administration Gottlieb. “The idea that we will get 20 million vaccines by the end of this year may not be realistic at present.”

On the other hand, it is difficult to coordinate actions across the United States. Fauci said in an interview with the media on the 28th that each state has its own measures on epidemic control. Whether it is New York, New Jersey, Florida or Georgia, as long as it crosses state boundaries, it has different sets of practices, and there is no agreement at all.” Unfortunately, the United States is the worst country in the world, and I believe that the differences between states are a major weakness in our response to the epidemic.” Moreover, Fauci also pointed out that the political division has complicated “simple public health matters”. For example, on the issue of wearing a mask or not, support and opposition seem to have become some kind of political statement. The “politicization” of public health measures has slowed down the response.

The serious situation and the inaction of the government also make the American media very dissatisfied. The Trump administration is silent on mutant COVID-19 and the worsening of the crisis in some regions, while instead criticizing Democratic governors on social media for taking urgent measures to contain the outbreak, saying that “lockdowns in Democratic ruling states are absolutely destroying the lives of many people”.

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