The United States on Monday became the first country to surpass 10 million cases and public health experts warn numbers may continue to climb unless the Trump administration takes steps now to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
U.S. reaches grim milestone
Although President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has vowed to make the COVID-19 public health emergency a priority for his incoming administration, public health experts warn that he won’t be able to control the spread unless the current Trump administration takes aggressive action now.
"I know a lot of people have a lot of hopes on a Biden administration fixing things, but we still have a couple of months of the Trump administration where we can't let things unravel. We still need to continue to pour resources into testing, tracing and isolating," Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The Hill.
The U.S. has recorded more than 100,000 new cases on Sunday, the fifth highest day of new cases in the country since the pandemic began. The country’s cases also account for roughly one-fifth of all reported cases in the world. Cases around the globe have topped 50 million and the U.S. has recorded nearly 238,000 deaths as of Monday.
Bident appoints scientists, doctors to task force
Biden warned the country in a briefing Monday that the U.S. will face a “dark winter” after meeting with his newly appointed coronavirus task force. Members of the task force include public health and science experts who will work with state and local health officials on the best way to prevent spread, reopen schools and businesses, deliver immediate relief to working families, and address ongoing racial and ethnic disparities that have had a disproportionate impact on communities of color.
“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said in a statement. “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”
Pfizer: Early test results on COVID-19 vaccine are promising
Meanwhile, the task force may be dealing with a potential COVID-10 vaccine sooner than expected. Pfizer Inc. announced on Monday that early test results indicate its vaccine is 90 percent effective. The results are based on data from a late-stage trial involving nearly 44,000 people. The Associated Press reports that Pfizer and its partner BioNTech is on track to apply later this month for an emergency-use approval for the vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, even if it has an expedited approval, the vaccine won’t be available before the end of the year and initial supplies will be rationed.
“With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO, in the announcement. “We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”
Biden welcomed the news and congratulated Pfizer but urged Americans to continue to practice social distancing guidelines and wear masks. “It is also important to understand that the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away," he said in a statement. “A mask remains a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine. Today’s news does not change this urgent reality. Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact.”