In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is warning of an increase in Corona cases like those in Germany, Italy and France, despite the vaccination campaign. "We need to work together now to prevent a fourth wave," says CDC director Rochelle Walensky. Hospital admissions and deaths were on the rise again in the U.S., as were positive tests.
Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to increase the pace of Corona vaccinations, with the majority of all adult Americans expected to be vaccine-eligible in as little as three weeks. By April 19, 90 percent of adults should be eligible for vaccination, U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday at the White House.
People should not have to travel long distances to get vaccinated: For 90 percent, a place to get vaccinated will be within five miles (eight kilometers) by the deadline, Biden promised. The plan is to make that possible by injecting vaccines into nearly 40,000 pharmacies across the country and sprouting more mass vaccination centers.
The United States has a population of about 330 million. In absolute numbers, the country has been hit the hardest in the world by the Corona pandemic: More than 30 million infections with Sars-CoV-2 have been detected. Around 550,000 people have died in the USA so far in connection with a Corona infection.
Biden had promised before taking office on Jan. 20 that at least 100 million vaccinations would be administered in his first 100 days in office. The goal was achieved after just under 60 days in office. Biden has since doubled his original goal: A total of 200 million vaccinations are to be administered by the end of his first 100 days as president, at the end of April.
Vaccinations are progressing at a rapid pace. Last Saturday alone, some 3.5 million vaccine doses had been injected in the U.S. in one day, according to the White House. That was a record. For several days in a row, the number of vaccine doses administered exceeded three million. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (CDC), nearly 29 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly 16 percent of citizens are fully vaccinated.
In the state of New York, for example, all citizens over the age of 30 may be vaccinated with one of the three available vaccines as of this Tuesday, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday. One week later, it will be the turn of all New Yorkers over the age of 16 - currently the minimum age for the vaccine.
Despite the vaccination successes, Biden also cautioned Monday, saying that in light of rising infection rates, the public should not slacken in efforts to contain the pandemic. "The war against Covid-19 is far from won," the U.S. president said. He added that one is in a race for life and death.
Biden called on Americans to continue wearing masks - and he also appealed to governors and leaders at the local level to stick with or reinstate mandatory masks. "Please, this is not about politics," he said, addressing them. "Reinstate the requirement if you dropped it." Biden answered in the affirmative to a reporter's question about whether states should reverse their opening steps.
Three vaccines are currently used in the U.S.: in addition to the Moderna and Biontech/Pfizer preparations, which require two doses to be injected, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose of vaccine, is also used.
The CDC had taken a closer look at the Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna vaccines for a new study. The study reaffirmed their effectiveness even against infections without symptoms. "The results showed that after the second dose of vaccine, the risk of infection was reduced by 90 percent two or more weeks after vaccination," the agency announced Monday. This included infections without symptoms, which accounted for a "small proportion" of about ten percent of all positive tests. There is thus hope that vaccinated people can no longer infect others in most cases and infection chains can thus be interrupted.
Image by Sebastian Thaene