The global COVID-19 epidemic continues to spread. In the past week, the epidemic in the United States has been developing rapidly, and the number of new coronavirus deaths in the country has soared by nearly 50% compared with the previous week. Experts warned that “number of waves” should not be used to describe the epidemic in the United States.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of good news about the coronavirus vaccine. The United Kingdom has approved the Pfizer vaccine, while the United States will start delivering Pfizer vaccine and Modena vaccine from December 15 and December 22, respectively. The data of the latter’s three-phase trial show that it can prevent 100% of severe COVID-19. Moscow, Russia, has also begun mass vaccination of “satellite-V” vaccine, and three trials show that its effectiveness is more than 95%.
With multiple vaccines about to be available, many countries have studied the problem about which population should be vaccinated first.
According to Xinhua News Agency, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University in the United States, as of 7:27 Beijing time on December 7, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide exceeded 66.95 million, and the cumulative number of deaths exceeded 1.534 million. More than 4.32 million new confirmed cases and more than 76,000 new deaths have been reported worldwide in the past week.
The epidemic in the United States intensified, and Europe and South Asia slowed down.
The Washington Post reported on the 6th that the data showed that since December 3, the average number of new cases in the world has exceeded the 600,000 mark for three consecutive days since December 3. Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States were the fastest-growing region last week. The number of new cases in the past week increased by 22% from the previous week, followed by North America excluding the United States at 15%, South America at 9%, followed by the Middle East and North Africa and East Asia and Oceania at 5% and 4%, respectively. Central and South Asia slowed down significantly, down 9% from last week.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the COVID-19 epidemic, which is still escalating in the United States, has not yet reached its peak. According to a report by Newsweek on December 5, Fauci pointed out that the epidemic in the United States will not change significantly until the third quarter of 2021. “In my opinion, when more people are vaccinated in April next year, the epidemic situation will decline. Waiting for May, June, July, and as we move into the third quarter, I think we can see the obvious changes.”
Regarding the claim that “the United States has never come out of the first wave of the epidemic”, Fauci explained: “I don’t even discuss ‘what waves’ anymore [when describing the epidemic]. It seems to me more like a higher level, with multiple waves superimposed together, rather than ‘flat, waves and waves of waves’.”
Turkey followed the United States by 19%, but the country’s sharp increase in data is largely due to the change in the country’s statistical method to include asymptomatic infections in the statistics. Then Mexico, 18%, followed by Brazil and Russia, 16% and 6%.
It is worth noting that many European countries have shown a trend of slowing down the epidemic. Poland, the most down from last week, reached 32% in the number of new confirmed cases in the past week, while Spain and Italy, the “hardest hit areas” in the early stage of the epidemic, also fell by 14% and 15% respectively, and France fell by 5%.
In addition, the UK has only increased by 4% compared with last week. According to the latest government data, as of December 4, the “R value” of COVID-19 infection across the UK was between 0.8 and 1, which is lower than the value of 0.9 to 1.0 released by the British Government’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Emergencies last week.” The R value refers to the number of reproductions of an infectious disease, which is simply how many people an infected person will infect.
At the same time, the epidemic in South Asia is also slowing down. India, the region’s most populous country — the number of new cases has dropped 24% in the past week, although it remains the third-most confirmed country in the world.
The vaccine is on the way.
While the epidemic is still developing, good news is coming. Several vaccines were approved or announced a clear delivery date last week.
The BBC and The Guardian reported on December 2 that the British government approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and German BioNTech on the same day. The United Kingdom became the first country in the world to approve the vaccine. The vaccine will start this week, starting with high-risk groups. The UK has previously ordered 40 million doses of this vaccine.
The British Daily Mail reported on December 5 that Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and Prince Philip, 99, will be vaccinated against the coronavirus vaccine jointly produced by Pfizer and BioNTech in the next few weeks. After vaccination, the Queen will announce this news to encourage more people to be vaccinated.
According to the European Union News Agency quoted by the European Union News Agency, on December 2, the European Commission Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Kiriakides, called on EU member states to strengthen the publicity and guidance of COVID-19 vaccination. On the same day, the Italian health minister said that all vaccines in the country were purchased by the government and would be vaccinated free of charge to all residents.
In addition, Moscow, the capital of Russia, has been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus on a large scale since December 5. The vaccine used in this vaccination is “Satellite-V”, which is the first coronavirus vaccine registered in Russia. According to Russian President Putin, more than 2 million doses of the vaccine have been produced or will be produced in the next few days. The results of the second mid-term analysis of the third phase of the vaccine showed that the effectiveness of the “satellite-V” vaccine could exceed 95% after 21 days of the second vaccination.
In the United States on the other side of the ocean, CNN reported on December 2 that Pfizer’s vaccine will be delivered from December 15, while Modner’s COVID-19 vaccine will start on December 22. In the emergency use authorization report of the coronavirus vaccine applied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Modena pointed out that the latest data for the third phase of the vaccine clinical trial showed that the company’s vaccine is effective against COVID-19 infection and 100% can prevent severe COVID-19.
According to Xinhua News Agency, Alex Aza, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in an interview with the U.S. media on November 30 that if the above-mentioned emergency use authorization application for the coronavirus vaccine is approved, the United States may provide the two coronavirus vaccines to the public before Christmas. In response, Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton, three former U.S. presidents, have expressed their willingness to publicly vaccinate against the novel coronavirus through television or video to prove to the public that the coronavirus vaccine is safe.
Who is vaccinated first?
However, the availability of vaccines does not mean a victory in the global fight against the epidemic. On December 4, WHO Director-General Tedros Tedros said that the progress in the development of the novel coronavirus vaccine has made people begin to see “the light at the end of the tunnel”, but there is still a long way to go to end the epidemic; even if the vaccine is launched, people need to adhere to the prevention and control measures.
In at least one year, countries will demand for vaccines far exceed the speed of vaccine supply. Therefore, although the vaccine is “near hand”, it has become a difficult problem for governments to decide who will be the first to vaccinate.
In response, the U.S. political news website Politico surveyed many countries around the world, most of which plan to prioritize vaccinations for health care workers and the elderly. Among them, many states in the United States included basic staff such as police, teachers and firefighters in the first vaccination list.
The United Kingdom has issued an “11-step” priority guidance aimed at protecting the elderly and high-risk groups. Among them, the elderly and staff in nursing homes will be vaccinated first, followed by the elderly over 80 years old and front-line medical staff, followed by the younger elderly, and the priority of each group decreases with age.
Eyes turn to Asia. As the third most confirmed country in the world, class differences and geographical factors have caused huge differences in mortality among different groups of people in India. Anup Malani, a professor at the University of Chicago, previously wrote that in some states with better medical conditions and higher incomes, the mortality rate of 80-year-olds is even lower than that of 60-year-olds in other states. That’s why the Indian government has set a threshold of 50 years below the priority vaccination age in most Western countries.
Even so, the task of vaccinating people aged 50 and above in India alone is still very difficult. The data shows that there are 260 million people over 50 years old in India, including about 20 million front-line workers. To this end, the National Vaccine Management Panel of India said in a statement that the team has worked with state governments to create a new “digital platform for vaccine management and distribution”.
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