Saturday, January 23

Some U.S. hospitals are already overwhelmed by coronavirus


(CNN) — Some parts of the US are beginning to feel the brunt of last month’s Christmas celebrations, at a time when hospitals are already at their critical point.

Experts warned that travel and gatherings during the holidays could help fuel another surge in COVID-19 infections. Yet millions of Americans traveled anyway, with more than 1.3 million people, a record during the pandemic, recorded by the Transportation Security Administration on Sunday alone.

Saturated hospitals

That’s as hospitalizations hit another bleak record on Monday, with more than 128,200 covid-19 patients, according to the COVID Tracking Project. But some states warn that the worst may be yet to come.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said the state had “more covid patients in ICU beds at the end of last week than in any other period of this pandemic.”

And he said he expects “some very large numbers with the spread of the Christmas gatherings combined with the delay and the tests and reports that may have occurred in the last 10 days.”

After recording a particularly deadly day in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday there was a spike after recent social gatherings.

“It is clear that the increase during the holidays increased the infection rate and increased the number of people now admitted to hospitals,” said the governor.

In California, where at least two regions have zero beds available in intensive care units (ICUs), infections continue to rise.

“We are heading for what we anticipate as a rally on top of another rally,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Monday. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the hospitals and I think it will come from the holidays.”

This is what happened after Thanksgiving, too. A few weeks ago, Los Angeles officials said that part of the brutal increase in infections and hospitalized patients they were seeing was due to Thanksgiving gatherings. Now, they asked residents to do their part to avoid even greater numbers.

“If we don’t use the tools available today, our front-line healthcare workers, who now serve large numbers of COVID-19 patients, will face many more weeks of growing numbers of patients and the heartbreaking loss of many. lives, ”said Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, in a statement Monday.

4.5 million doses of vaccines administered

Vaccination, meanwhile, is ongoing, but experts have said it probably won’t be for a couple of months that it becomes widespread enough to have a significant impact on the course of the pandemic.

About 15.4 million doses have been distributed and about 4.5 million have been administered, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That means less than 30% of the vaccine doses distributed in the US have been administered, and only four states have so far administered at least half of the doses distributed to them, according to CDC data: Connecticut , North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee. Meanwhile, in a dozen other states, less than a quarter of distributed doses have been administered.

When asked about the discrepancy between the doses distributed and those administered, Operation Warp Speed ​​Chief Scientific Advisor Moncef Slaoui said “nothing went wrong,” adding that it is the responsibility of the states to administer the vaccines.

“We agree that there is a delay,” Slaoui told CNN. “We are available and ready to assist states when they specifically request assistance.”

While some states have acknowledged problems on the ground that have contributed to delaying vaccination, many have said for months that they need significantly more federal funding in order to implement vaccination plans.

In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday that he “disagrees” with the rate at which vaccines were administered in the state.

“We need to move faster,” he said. “We need those who have already received the vaccine to move faster. We need our partners in long-term care to move faster. “

Reeves, in Mississippi, said that deployment was “slower in Mississippi and slower across the country than any of us would like.”

“But it’s already underway,” he said. “Is increasing. And we just have to step on the gas.

According to one study, giving the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more people rather than withholding the supply available for the second doses may reduce the number of new cases. The US government currently withholds about half of the available vaccine supply, distributing it to states and other jurisdictions weeks later to administer as a second dose.

But by reducing the amount retained to 10% for the first three weeks and delivering a consistent dose of six million doses each week, the US could prevent up to 29% more cases in eight weeks, the study found.

Applying half doses of the covid-19 vaccine is a ‘terrible idea’, says expert

To help speed up vaccines, Slaoui said the U.S. could begin giving half doses of Moderna’s vaccine to people ages 18 to 55, which could make the vaccine available to twice as many people in this age group. age.

The decision, Slaoui said, is ultimately in the hands of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But anyone who has received the vaccine from Moderna or Pfizer should receive both doses, two senior FDA officials said Monday. People who speculate on the possibility of getting by on a single dose are misinterpreting the data, they said.

“We have been following discussions and news reports on how to reduce the number of doses, extend the time between doses, change the dose (half dose) or mix and match vaccines to immunize more people against covid-19,” they said in a statement, Dr. Stephen Hahn, FDA Commissioner, and Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the FDA’s Center for Evaluation and Research of Biological Products.

“At this time, it is premature to suggest changes to the FDA-authorized doses or schedules of these vaccines and is not firmly rooted in the available evidence. Without appropriate data to support such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of putting public health at risk, undermining historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19, “they added.

A member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee said half doses are a “terrible idea.”

‘There are no data on the efficacy of half a dose. If you use half a dose, you are simply making it up. You just hope you’re right, ”said Dr. Paul Offit. “Why would you dare to invent something when you don’t know if it works or not?”

CNN’s Gisela Crespo, Maggie Fox, Deidre McPhillips, Michael Nedelman, Sanjay Gupta, Rebekah Riess, Pete Muntean, Naomi Thomas, Greg Wallace and Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.

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