In the first week of 2021, roughly two people died from Covid-19 in the U.S. every minute, amid a struggling national vaccination effort, soaring coronavirus cases and the deadliest day of the pandemic yet.
According to data from the Covid Tracking Project, 19,418 people died from the disease in the first seven days of 2021.
The U.S. is the country hardest hit by the novel coronavirus — more than 4,000 people died on Thursday, the deadliest day yet of the pandemic, and over 355,000 people have died from the disease since the pandemic began.
Experts warn that things are likely to get worse before they get better as hospitals across the country are stretched to breaking point — hospitals in LA are reportedly rationing oxygen and many are running out of beds.
More than 132,000 Americans are currently admitted in hospitals for Covid-19-related care.
Widespread vaccination, which could help turn the tide against the virus, has failed to gain momentum and the U.S. is way behind its inoculation targets.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
President-elect Joe Biden has said he will release all available Covid-19 vaccine doses for immediate use upon taking office, ending Trump’s strategy of saving doses to ensure people have access to a recommended second shot. Some countries, such as the U.K., have decided to space out doses beyond what manufacturers recommend in a bid to provide as many people as possible with some degree of immunity. Experts are torn on the strategy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends the vaccines are distributed as intended, with a second shot after a 21 or 28 day gap. The British medical regulator, and more recently the World Health Organization, say the second shot can be delayed, although they do not agree on how long this should be.
Biden warned that the U.S. is falling “far behind” what is needed to control the pandemic. Trump’s approach would take “years,” he said.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
A highly infectious variant of coronavirus, first discovered in the U.K., could be circulating in the U.S.. At least 52 cases have been reported so far. Fortunately, scientists do not believe the variant is able to evade the recently-developed vaccines.