Fauci Calls for Additional Resources as US Misses Covid Vaccination Target | World news

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The leading infectious disease specialist in the United States, Anthony Fauci, on Thursday called on the federal government to deploy more resources to immunize Americans after the country missed its goal of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of the year ‘year.

As overworked and underfunded state health departments scrambled to administer vaccines, some seniors waited overnight for their first dose in Florida.

“We would have loved to see it run smoothly and have 20 million doses in people today, by the end of 2020, which was the projection,” Fauci said.

“Obviously that didn’t happen, and it’s disappointing,” he told NBC in an interview.

The US failure to meet its year-end vaccine distribution target comes as concerns grow over the newly identified variant of Covid-19 circulating in the UK, which is believed to have reached the US this week , with cases in Colorado and California.

More than 14 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States, but only 2.1 million people have been vaccinated, leaders of the federal immunization program, Operation Warp Speed, said at a press conference on Wednesday. .

Operation Warp Speed ​​chief advisor Moncef Slaoui said: “We know it should be better and we are working hard to improve it.”

Terry Beth Hadler was so anxious to get his shot that the 69-year-old piano teacher lined up overnight in a parking lot in Florida with hundreds of other seniors.

She waited 2 p.m. and a scuffle nearly broke out before dawn on Tuesday when people lined up outside the Bonita Springs library, where officials were offering photos on a first-come, first-served basis to people 65 and over. or more.

“I’m afraid the event was a super-spreader,” she said. “I was petrified.

Overworked and underfunded state health services are struggling to re-create their vaccine delivery plans. Counties and hospitals have taken different approaches, resulting in long queues, confusion, frustration, and blocked phone lines.

A host of logistical problems have complicated the process of combating the scourge that has killed more than 340,000 Americans.

Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine syringes at a hospital in Miami, Florida.

Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine syringes at a hospital in Miami, Florida. Photography: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis noted that the vaccine supply was limited.

“Maybe it’s not today for everyone, maybe not next week. But over the next few weeks, as long as we continue to get the supply, you will have the opportunity to get it, ”he said Wednesday.

Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid), said that to speed up vaccine distribution, the federal government needs to provide more resources to local governments responsible for administering the vaccine.

“Namely, states, cities, counties, places where the vaccine actually goes into the arms of individuals,” Fauci said. “We need to support local groups, states and cities to help them accomplish this task.”

Ashish Jha, health policy researcher and dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, echoed Fauci in pointing out that states do not receive adequate financial or technical support from the federal government.

Jha said the Trump administration, primarily the Department of Health and Human Services, has bankrupted states.

“There is still a lot to do in states,” he said. “But you need a much more active role from the federal government than it has been willing to do. They have said widely to states, “It is your responsibility. Understand it. ”

James McCarthy, the chief medical officer at Memorial Hermann in Houston, said the hospital system had administered about half of the roughly 30,000 doses it had received since December 15.

The system had to create a complicated plan from scratch.

“We can’t just hand it out like candy,” McCarthy said.

More details and concerns about the new variant

California this week became the second state, after Colorado, to report the discovery of a new variant of the virus that was first confirmed in the UK.

The patient, who developed symptoms on Dec. 27, is a 30-year-old man from San Diego County who has no travel history, which could indicate someone else had already introduced the news variant in the state, officials said.

Although the new variant was only found in the United States this week, the CDC said it is likely already circulating in the country. Concerns have been expressed that it may already be widespread and too late to stop.

Paramedics prepare to transport a potential Covid-19 patient to Los Angeles, California.

Paramedics prepare to transport a potential Covid-19 patient to Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Apu Gomes / AFP / Getty Images

It is common for viruses to undergo minor changes as they reproduce and travel through a population. Scientists have found no evidence that the variant is more deadly or causes more severe disease, and they believe that the vaccines currently being dispensed will be effective against it. But the fear is that the mutations at some point will become large enough to defeat vaccines.

Fauci said it was “inevitable” that the new variant, called B117, would arrive in the United States due to the high level of infections in the country.

“The good news is that it doesn’t seem to be more virulent, namely making people sicker and leading to more deaths,” Fauci added.

The United States has recorded 19.7 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 342,400 people have died from the infection, according to Johns Hopkins University, many more than any other country.

December was the nation’s deadliest month since the pandemic began in early 2020, and health officials have warned January could be worse.

More than 3,740 U.S. coronavirus deaths were reported in the United States on Wednesday, the highest single-day death toll to date, surpassing the 24-hour record of deaths the day before.

California is currently experiencing the worst push in the country. This week, the state took a grim milestone, becoming the third state, behind New York and Texas, to pass 25,000 deaths. In the hard-hit Los Angeles county, deaths have now passed 10,000 and hospitals are struggling to cope with an influx of patients.

The United States has recorded more cases and deaths of coronavirus than any other country. President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration’s vaccine distribution efforts on Tuesday.

Fauci said the vaccine distribution would likely be increase in the first weeks of January.

“Hopefully, as we look forward to 2021, as we move into the year, with a combination of vaccines and proper adherence to public health measures, we can end and crush this situation.” , in the same way that we have done with other epidemics like polio and measles and other important infectious diseases, ”said Fauci. “So that’s the goal and I hope we accomplish it.”