A massive wave of fresh COVID-19 cases surged in United States hospitals as recorded on the 17th of December. This surge occurred as the US government pushed further the immunization rollout on Thursday and got geared to receive nearly 6 million doses of the new Moderna vaccine upon acquiring regulatory approval.
A Dire Crisis
According to health reports on the 16th of December, the number of infected rose to record heights for the 19th straight day, as nearly 113,000 patients were identified in US medical facilities. The virus claimed 3,580 lives, the highest recorded in a single day. According to a Reuters tally, the cases rose by 239,018 on the 17th, raising the national toll to over 17 million.
The condition of hospitals has been deteriorating because of a worsening crisis this winter. Hospital beds are running out, with patients being accommodated in hallways. Intensive care units are in a dire state due to overcrowding. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said at a briefing, “We expect to have more dead bodies than we have spaces for them.” He added that the country’s second-largest city had fully exhausted its ICU capacity.
Pfizer Vaccination Ongoing
The initial 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had commenced its shipping process from 13th December. They are still reaching hospitals across the country and getting injected into the arms of doctors, nurses, other frontline medical professionals.
Dr. Simon Mates, an ICU co-medical director at Dignity Health California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles, said that his co-health workers are relieved to get the vaccine at a crucial time. “Our biggest concern was, ‘What if someone gets sick?’ But now with the vaccine, that concern seems to be ebbing.” Mates got injected with the vaccine on the 16th, and said, “It was one less thing to worry about”.
Race for Second Vaccine
Many Americans had disregarded government warnings to stay indoors during Thanksgiving. With infections rising phenomenally across the country, the drive to expand immunization with a second vaccine is considered critical to preventing a collapse of healthcare systems.
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, 5.9 million Moderna vaccine doses had been fixed to be delivered to state governments and would be distributed nationwide at the start of the weekend, as reported by CNBC.
Both the vaccines require two doses, given three or four weeks apart, for each person. The Moderna vaccine has been analyzed to be better than the Pfizer shots in some respects. For instance, it can be easily stored in cold storage with the minimum possible requirements. This makes the new vaccine suitable for rolling out in rural and isolated areas.
The US Food and Drug Administration conducted a daylong meeting with a panel of outside advisors on 17th December. The panel endorsed the emergency use of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, raising expectations of an FDA approval of the new vaccine by 18th December.