And the reported number is low because many doses administered in recent days have not yet been listed in the figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency said.
“As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise nationwide, this achievement comes at a critical time and will help protect those at the forefront – our healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients – as well as our most vulnerable: the elderly, living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, ”said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.
The government has said it intends to distribute the first 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in the coming weeks. So far, approx. 9.5 million doses.
“It’s been a great week of deliveries of vaccines,” General Gustave Perna, chief of operations for Operation Warp Speed, told reporters on Wednesday. “Over 7,800 deliveries by the end of tomorrow as we deliver the 7.9 million doses of vaccine that were allocated to this week around the country – truly a huge achievement.”
Perna said about 15.5 million doses of vaccine have been given, and a further 4.5-5 million will be given next week.
“We will complete these deliveries in the first week of January,” he said.
Nursing vaccinations are expected to increase
Thanks to a coordinated effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and two major pharmacy chains, Covid-19 vaccines have reached 238 long-term care facilities in 12 states, Perna said.
“Walgreens and CVS are being received by jubilant crowds, and they are operating their efforts to make sure everyone gets shot,” Perna said during a media briefing.
Perna said 13 more states and an additional 1,000 facilities with residents in need of long-term care will receive vaccine doses next week.
“Every week, we just build on it as we go,” he said.
The chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed predicted officials will begin to see a decline in the number of people dying as more of the most vulnerable people are inoculated.
“Within two weeks of the start of immunization of subjects living in long-term care facilities, we should begin to see a decline in overall mortality in the country,” Moncef Slaoui said.
It is reasonable to assume that the protection against serious illness provided by both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines will translate into death prevention, Slaoui said.
He said the priority should be to maximize the number of people in long-term care facilities who are vaccinated.
“There are enough vaccine doses to immunize more or less 3 million individuals living in such facilities,” Slaoui said.
Surge then cases and now increases deaths and hospitalizations
And on Wednesday night, another 3,300 deaths were reported.
Admissions were at a highest level of 119,463.
In nine states, more people are hospitalized with Covid-19 than at any other time in this pandemic: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, New Hampshire and North Carolina, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
“We stood for this and hoped we were wrong,” said Dr. Esther Choo, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.
“But every holiday has been the same. And Thanksgiving, we saw the kind of journey that happened back then. And people who are hospitalized at the ICU and are dying now – many of them are due to the Thanksgiving wave.”
Health experts like Choo and Fauci say the next 10 days could trigger even more infections, hospitalizations and deaths than Thanksgiving.
“And it’s not just the journey, it’s what happens at the other end – where they travel to – which is a lot of family-and-friend gatherings. So I think we’re already doing something for the outcome of it. , which will be well into late January to February … And I have no doubt that it will be waves on top of waves on top of waves. ”
A new strain has probably already spread in the United States
“I think I can be most reassuring,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
“First of all, this is not a surprise. This virus is an RNA virus. RNA viruses tend to change their instruction books slowly over time, resulting in these kinds of variants occurring,” he said.
The good news is that the antibodies that these vaccines generate are quite effective in binding to several parts of the spike protein. And so if there is a change in it – which is what the mutant has done – we would expect that the vaccine must still be effective against it. ”
Pfizer and Moderna, manufacturers of the two vaccines currently being deployed in the United States, said they are testing their vaccines to see if they work against the new strain, which was first discovered in the UK.
Researchers advising the British government estimated that the new strain could be up to 70% more transmissible than other varieties.
Peter Horby, chairman of the new and emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Breathing Group (NERVTAG), said Monday that experts “now have great confidence that this variant has a transmission advantage” over other variants.
The UK variant does not appear to be causing more serious illness and it appears that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will still be effective.
So far, the strain “has not been identified through sequencing efforts in the United States, although viruses have only been sequenced from about 51,000 of the 17 million U.S. cases,” the CDC said Tuesday.
“Given the small proportion of American infections that have been sequenced, the variant could already be in the United States without being detected.”
Some researchers believe that the strain probably arrived in the United States in mid-November and that many people in the United States could already be infected with it.
“If I were to guess, I would say it probably is in hundreds of people now,” said Michael Worobey, head of the University of Arizona’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
“It is very possible that it has arrived several times in several places.”
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Haley Brink, Shelby Lin Erdman, Elizabeth Cohen and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.