Thursday, March 30, 2023

Despite Vaccination Campaign, COVID Cases Plateau in US

A While the United States’ vaccination campaign against COVID-19 is well underway, daily rates of infection remain high.

Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top adviser on the pandemic, expressed concern Sunday that this could be the result of states lifting some restrictions too early – especially around Spring Break.

“I think it is premature,” Fauci told CBS, speaking of some states lifting restrictions as vaccination rates rise, warning that there is “really a risk” of seeing a third epidemic wave.

Answering reporters’ questions Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden said he believes rates may be plateauing, instead of decreasing, because people are “letting their guard down”.

Last Thursday, Biden pledged to put 200 million shots into arms in his first 100 days as president. On Sunday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Sunday that more than 51.5 million Americans have received at least one coronavirus shot and 93.6 million have received both of their shots.

At the same time, the U.S. has been confirming roughly 60,000 new cases of the virus daily for the past few days. A plateau of cases at such a high number is concerning.

“I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic. The latest CDC data continue to suggest that recent declines in cases have leveled off at a very high number,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

Earlier Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx, who had served as the Trump White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told CNN that she believes the U.S. death toll of nearly 550,000 could have been much lower if officials in cities and states had taken more aggressive steps to mitigate the disease’s spread by learning lessons of the first surge.

“There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge,” Birx said. “All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially”.

In Venezuela, opposition leader Juan Guaido announced on Twitter that he has tested positive for the virus and is currently in isolation.

The announcement follows news that the Facebook page of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been frozen, according to a spokesman for the social media giant, because the page contained misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maduro violated Facebook policy when he posted a video without any medical evidence, promoting Carvativir, a drink made with the herb thyme, as a cure for the coronavirus, a company spokesman told Reuters. He described the drink as a “miracle” medication capable of neutralizing the coronavirus without any side effects.

Neighboring Brazil is averaging 2,500 deaths a day from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The South American nation is on pace to reach 4,000 deaths a day, six experts told The Associated Press, a level that would rival the worst seen in the U.S., which has about one-third more people. The U.S. set a record of 4,477 deaths on January 12, 2021, according to Johns Hopkins data.

“Four thousand deaths a day seems to be right around the corner,” Dr. José Antônio Curiati, a supervisor at Sao Paulo’s Hospital das Clinicas, the biggest hospital complex in Latin America, told the AP.

President Jair Bolsonaro appeared on television last week to declare 2021 “as the year of the vaccine.” Brazil’s Supreme Court backed some states that have implemented nightly curfews, which the Bolsonaro administration fought, saying that only the federal government can impose such restrictions.

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported Sunday evening more than 127 million global COVID-19 infections. The research center updates its data constantly and provides expert input.

The United States has more cases than another country, with more than 30.2 million infections, followed by Brazil, with 12.5 million, and India, with almost 12 million, according to the center.