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Dr. Fauci says the US will face ‘surge upon surge’ of COVID cases after the Holidays

The United States should brace itself for ‘surge upon surge’ of COVID cases, Dr Anthony Fauci has said, after millions of people traveled during Thanksgiving and records were shattered across the nation.

On Saturday night the Covid Tracking Project reported 211,000 cases, and 2,445 deaths.

There are 101,190 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S.

New data suggests that a smaller percentage of patients with COVID-19 are being admitted to hospitals because the nation’s healthcare systems are being overwhelmed by the staggering number of new infections. 

Two sets of data show that the percentage of those who are admitted to the hospital once testing positive is decreasing. 

Hospitals are being forced to tighten their restrictions on who is admitted, suggesting that some patients who may have been hospitalized for treatment during the spring and summer wave are now being turned away as deaths from the virus also increase.

The seven-day average for reported COVID-19 deaths rose to 2,123, the researchers found – surpassing the previous high of 2,116 recorded on April 21.

‘Given data drops and spikes on and after Thanksgiving, the seven-day-average is an especially useful metric to watch right now,’ their analysts warned.

Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, on Friday warned of a 'surge upon a surge'

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, on Friday warned of a ‘surge upon a surge’

The FDA is set to meet on Thursday to decide whether the vaccine is safe to be administered

The FDA is set to meet on Thursday to decide whether the vaccine is safe to be administered 

Pfizer’s vaccine has been approved in the U.K. – the first country to formally grant the green light – but in the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not meeting until Thursday.

Professor Marty Makary slammed the FDA for meeting to review the Pfizer vaccine on December 10 even though it had already gained approval in the U.K. on Wednesday

Professor Marty Makary slammed the FDA for meeting to review the Pfizer vaccine on December 10 even though it had already gained approval in the U.K. on Wednesday

The Queen, 94, and her husband Prince Philip, 99, will be among the first to get the vaccine in the U.K. given their age, with their vaccination expected in the next few weeks.

A professor at Johns Hopkins attacked the FDA for continuing to hold off their approval of the COVID-19 vaccine – dubbing the agency’s progress ‘Operation Turtle Speed’.

In an op-ed for The Dispatch, professor Marty Makary said there needed to be more urgency in approving the vaccine.

‘FDA regulators are wasting precious time in greenlighting a COVID vaccine as more than 2,000 Americans are dying each day and the pandemic continues to starve American society,’ Makary wrote in the scathing op-ed.

Fauci, the nation’s top public health expert, has refrained from criticizing the FDA, but warned on Friday night that the situation was precarious.

He said Thanksgiving travel had made it more likely that the country would require temporary ‘drastic’ and ‘draconian’ measures – such as shutdowns or the suspension of elective procedures – to protect the nation’s health care system.

He said that the U.S. was facing a ‘surge upon a surge’ of cases that will likely continue to mount.

The extent of the Thanksgiving-related surge won’t fully be known until almost Christmas – when yet another surge of cases may again start, said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Donald Trump, who has been glaringly absent from discussion, preferring instead to tweet about how the election was ‘stolen’ from him, on Saturday night told a rally in Georgia that the U.S. was ’rounding the turn on the pandemic’.

He urged the country to resume business as usual, declaring: ‘They need to open up.’

Trump has planned 20 White House Christmas gatherings, and photos on social media from parties already held show crowds of maskless attendees in close proximity.

'FDA regulators are wasting precious time in greenlighting a COVID vaccine as more than 2,000 Americans are dying each day and the pandemic continues to starve American society,' Makary declared in the scathing op-ed

‘FDA regulators are wasting precious time in greenlighting a COVID vaccine as more than 2,000 Americans are dying each day and the pandemic continues to starve American society,’ Makary declared in the scathing op-ed

WHY THE FDA IS TAKING SO LONG TO APPROVE PFIZER VACCINE 

FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn said on Wednesday that scientists needed more time to review the raw data from the Pfizer vaccine trial before they’d make a decision. 

Before December 10, when they will all meet to discuss it, this is what happens; 

STEP 1 

Multiple teams examine different data sets 

Hahn said that ordinarily, 150 scientists would look at an application. It’s unclear if more have been added for the Pfizer application or the Moderna application given the urgency of the situation

They will separately look at data for different components of the vaccine including; 

1) EFFICACY 

2) SAFETY 

3) MANUFACTURING 

All the different groups will then come together on the 10th to discuss their findings and if, collaboratively, they can recommend approval 

STEP 2 

The FDA scientists make a recommendation to the advisory council

The advisory council has already started meeting to discuss who would get the vaccine first if it is approved. 

They also have to decide, ultimately, if it is safe for approval. 

If they do that, the doses will start being shipped out on December 15. 

In California, Fauci’s warning was already coming true as the state went further into lockdown, with huge swathes of the 39-million-person area shuttered.

On Saturday 25,068 new cases were reported, according to the Covid Tracking Project – a 10.8 per cent increase in seven days.

There are now 10,273 people in the state in hospital.

On Thursday the Bay Area, home to some 8.5 million people, pre-emptively entered lockdown, closing many of their non-essential businesses before they reached Governor Gavin Newsom’s threshold of 85 per cent capacity in intensive care units in hospitals.

Newsom’s recommendations came on top of existing restrictions already in place in LA County, the most populous in the country with 10 million people, which on November 22 ordered all restaurants to close and all residents to avoid leaving their homes if possible.

On December 2 the city of Los Angeles followed suit, imposing its own lockdown mirroring that of LA County.

‘My message couldn’t be simpler: It’s time to hunker down,’ said Eric Garcetti, mayor of LA, at the time.

‘It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it.’

People line up on Saturday in North Hollywood to get tested for COVID-19

People line up on Saturday in North Hollywood to get tested for COVID-19

People drop their test kits into a receptacle at a testing site in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Saturday

People drop their test kits into a receptacle at a testing site in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Saturday

Within the region, frustrations were mounting at perceived inconsistencies. Schools were closed, and yet in-store grocery shopping was allowed; playgrounds were taped shut, and yet tourists were allowed to mingle on Santa Monica pier maskless, in crowds.

Shopping malls remained open, filming could continue, and until recently gyms and nail salons were open too.

Jon Favreau, co-host of the popular political podcast Pod Save America, tweeted that communication about the rules was ‘atrocious – confusing, contradictory and overly officious’.

 

Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant set up for outdoor dining on Friday in Burbank, California

Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant set up for outdoor dining on Friday in Burbank, California

Yet LA County has broken single-day coronavirus case records in four of the last five days this week.

On Saturday, at least 9,218 cases were reported, according to preliminary numbers compiled in The LA Times‘ tally, exceeding a record set Friday, when 8,562 cases were reported. The single-day record was also broken Thursday, when 7,713 cases were reported.

LA County is now averaging nearly 7,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the last week – more than quadruple the pace from a month ago, when the county averaged about 1,500 new coronavirus cases a day in the week that ended November 5.

With at least 43 new COVID-19 deaths recorded on Saturday, LA County is now averaging 38 deaths a day, a pace not seen since late July, during the region’s previous peak.

COVID fatigue was causing concern not just in California, as exhausted citizens let their guard down in respect to hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing.

Half a million people will likely die of coronavirus in the United States by April, according to a disturbing new forecast from a University of Washington model.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) believes that 538,893 people will lose their lives by 1 April – an additional 270,000 deaths from 30 November.

If mask mandates are relaxed, that total will rise to 770,000 by 1 April.

In an update on Friday, they announced that calculations show the peak of deaths will be in mid January, with 3,000 people dying a day.

Vaccinations will help, but will only save 9,000 lives by 1 April. The IHME concluded that a further 14,000 lives can be saved with more rapid vaccine scale-up targeting high-risk individuals.

The IHME researchers found that state governors play the most important role in avoiding mass casualties.

If they order the wearing of masks, increasing their use to 95 per cent, 66,000 lives will be saved by 1 April.

At present, 71 per cent of people always wear a mask when leaving their home, but it varied by state.

In South Dakota and Wyoming the researchers found that mask use was lower than 50 per cent.

California has the most stringent restrictions at present, while Florida currently has none.

In Oklahoma, Alaska, South Dakota, Iowa, Idaho and Missouri only the minimal restrictions – closures of schools – are in place.

The IHME team use a hybrid modelling approach, incorporating elements of statistical and disease transmission models, to inform governments and policy advisors about the probable impact of their decisions.

The team uses data from local and national governments, hospital networks and associations, the World Health Organization, and third-party aggregators, among other sources.

They found that Covid-19 was the number one cause of death in the US over the past week – overtaking heart disease, all cancers, strokes and kidney disease.

By the end of the year, the IHME expects Covid to be second only to heart disease as the major causes of death, with 348,311 predicted to die, versus 557,600 from heart disease.


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