B.1.1.7, a new and more deadly COVID-19 variant, first detected in the United Kingdom, is likely to fuel a surge of cases in the spring, as predicted by several experts on Tuesday.
The variant was suspected of causing renewed spread in the UK. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the new variant makes up for over 1880 cases in forty-five states.
Trevor Bedford with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington said that the variant could result in more of a wave around April or May this year.
On Tuesday, some experts said that the best way to get ahead of the surge is to prevent the suspected spring surge through extensive inoculation drives. Bedford, closely following the rise of new COVID-19 variants, predicted that inoculation and mitigation efforts, such as face-mask use and social distancing, will help prevent the virus from spreading any further.
Moreover, he said he still does suspect that things will be brought under control in the summer.
However, according to Bedford, it is possible that a new surge could begin in the Autumn. An infectious-diseases specialist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dr. Josh Schiffer, agreed with Bedford’s statement.
Schiffer, modeling the patterns of spread, said that he thinks with the newly infectious variants, it will be tough to prevent a fourth-wave overall.
The U.S. exceeded 0.5 million COVID deaths this week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said it does pain him when he sees things like pleading for people to do the kinds of things, they know work, the mask-wearing, the social distancing, and the denial.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll is by far the highest of any country and more than double that of Brazil’s, according to Johns Hopkins University data, has the second-highest number of COVID-related fatalities.
The Vaccination Challenges
According to data Tuesday from the CDC, above 44.5M people have received at least one shot of their two-dose vaccines. The CDC said around 19.8M had been fully immunized with both doses. That’s about 6 percent of Americans.
According to prepared remarks from vaccine producers for a House subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, the U.S. can expect to have a total of 0.24B COVID -19 vaccine doses by the end of March.
The two companies with coronavirus vaccines authorized for emergency use in America, Pfizer, and Moderna, have pledged to make a combined total of 0.22B doses available for delivery by the end of March. That would be enough to inoculate 0.11B Americans since both vaccines require two shots.
Johnson & Johnson has yet to receive an emergency use authorization for its COVID vaccine and pledged to make 20M jabs available in the same time frame. Its vaccine requires a single dose.
Pfizer stated it expects to increase the number of doses available for delivery from about 4M to 5M doses per week at the beginning of February to more than 13M doses per week by mid-March.
The company stated in its prepared remarks they are on track to make 0.12 billion doses available for shipment by the end of March. Moreover, an additional 80 million doses will be available by the end of May. They anticipate all 0.3B contracted vaccine doses will be made available for delivery by the end of July, enabling the vaccination of up to 0.15B U.S. people.
Moderna said it is on the way to deliver 100M jabs by the end of March, and it plans to double monthly deliveries by April to more than 40M jabs per month.
NIH director says: Single dose of vaccine might be enough for some
Dr. Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health Director, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that a single dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine might be enough for those who have already been infected with COVID-19.
Collins wrote that the results raise the likelihood that one dose might be enough for someone infected with SARS-CoV-2 and already generated antibodies against the virus.
Moreover, he referenced a recent preprint on a small NIH-funded study, which looked at 109 people who already received a first dose of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine.
It found that for 41 people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies before their first dose, the immune response to the first shot was equal to and in some cases better than the response to the second shot in previously uninfected people.
The director of global health in emergency medicine at ‘New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center,’ Dr. Craig Spencer, said the best way for them to get back to normal is to double down right now, not to throw off their face-masks and not to do things that they know can risk reigniting outbreaks.
That means continuing to mask up faces, keeping a distance from others, avoiding crowded areas, and washing our hands regularly will get Americans back to normal life.