(CNN) — More than a million people have received their first injection of the covid-19 vaccine, but an influential model on the coronavirus projects that the death toll in the United States will rise to more than half a million, surpassing 567,000 by 1 April.
The latest projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington (IHME, for its acronym in English) indicates that the number could skyrocket even more, to 731,000 by April 1, if the states relax the mandates destined to contain the new coronavirus.
But we could save tens of thousands of lives. More than 33,000 lives could be saved with the projected deployment of the vaccine, the IHME said, and 45,000 could be saved if this deployment were faster.
Across the country, mask use has risen to 74%, the IHME said. If it expanded further, to 95%, there could be 49,000 fewer deaths by April 1.
How is the vaccine against covid-19 in the US?
The latest IHME model comes as the United States has pinned its hopes on recently licensed COVID-19 vaccines. Operation Warp Speed has distributed nearly 9.5 million doses and administered at least one million doses by Thursday morning, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English).
“As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, this achievement comes at a critical time and will help protect those on the front lines, our healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients. as well as the most vulnerable: older people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, “said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC.
California exceeds two million cases of covid-19
Vaccinations should happen as soon as possible in California, which became the first state to reach 2 million coronavirus cases on Wednesday night, a number higher than any other country in the world. save a handful. This came less than six weeks after the state reached one million cases on November 12. Given the state’s population of 39.5 million, the figure means that about one in 20 people in California has tested positive for the virus.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate is now 12.6%, a slight decrease from previous weeks. However, 55 of California’s 58 counties remain in the most restrictive purple tier of the state’s reopening system. This has resulted in the closure of many non-essential business operations that operate indoors.
Governor Gavin Newsom attributed the recent spike in cases to people relaxing their physical distancing efforts and gathering with people outside their homes, especially during the holidays.
A total of 23,558 Californians have died from complications of the disease since the start of the pandemic.
‘We have an end in sight’
In all, the United States reported 228,131 new coronavirus cases and 3,359 new deaths on Wednesday, the third-highest number of deaths in a single day. It’s a devastating “normal” for the United States, which has averaged about 215,000 new cases and more than 2,700 new deaths every day for the past week.
Dr. Andrew Pastewski, medical director of the ICU at Jackson South Medical Center in Miami, attributed the increase in cases at his hospital to Thanksgiving.
“And with the holidays coming up, we are very scared by what we are about to see,” he told CNN’s Erica Hill.
But with the vaccine, “we have an end in sight,” Pastewski said.
The government has said it intends to distribute 20 million first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in the coming weeks. This is a little later than originally planned.
“It has been a great week of vaccine delivery,” General Gustave Perna, Operation Warp Speed’s director of operations, told reporters Wednesday. “More than 7,800 deliveries before the end of tomorrow, as we will deliver the 7.9 million doses of vaccine that were allocated for this week across the country, truly a tremendous feat.”
Perna said that about 15.5 million doses of vaccine have been assigned and that between 4.5 and 5 million will be assigned next week.
“We will finish those deliveries in the first week of January,” he said.
Reinforced Kits for Covid-19 Vaccines in the USA
Additionally, healthcare workers have found that the Pfizer vaccine, a frozen solution that is diluted with saline before it is given to people, can produce more than the five doses that were initially thought.
Perna said the ancillary kits that ship along with the vaccine are being adjusted with additional supplies to accommodate a possible sixth dose.
“We have adjusted our contract and our kit build to … provide even more capacity as we move forward,” Perna said Wednesday.
He noted that the kits already had some “extra capacity” built in. He also explained that at this time most of the administration of the vaccine is done in hospitals, “where they have access to syringes and needles accordingly.”
“So (I) feel very comfortable with the availability of syringes and needles and our ability to put together these kits and continue the simultaneous distribution of the kits with the vaccine,” he said.
CNN’s Alexandra Meeks, Andrea Kane, Holly Yan, and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.
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