President Biden’s Inauguration, his plans for Covid-19 vaccination program continue to dominate the news this week. President Elect Biden is sticking with his plan to vaccinate 100 million people in the first 100 days and many people are doubting if it’s feasible. His 1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package includes most of the items that Democrats were asking for and the Republicans are opposing it as too extravagant. Vaccination programs are still going very slow with promises of speeding up in many different ways.
The number of new cases per day has started to come down and it’s lower than 200,000 per day indicating that the surge in new cases associated with New Year travels and gatherings is over. The number of deaths has also started to come down and is less than 2,000. Total number of cases has reached over 24 million and the total number of deaths has crossed 400,000.
Total number of new cases over the past 14 days has gone down by 7%, the number of deaths has gone up by 21% and the number of hospitalized cases has gone up by 2% indicating very high numbers in the first two weeks of January. It’s usual for new cases to go up and followed up by increase in deaths and hospitals in 2-4 weeks.
In terms of average number of daily cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days, Arizona with 101, California with 95, South Carolina with 94, New York, Oklahoma and Utah with 78 are the top leaders and our Maryland had 44 cases. In terms of death per 100,000 population in the last seven days, Arizona with 2.6, Alabama with 1.9, Pennsylvania with 1.7, Mississippi with 1.6 and West Virginia with 1.5 lead the group.
In the meantime, attention has now shifted to the number of vaccine doses available and the vaccination rates in different states. Nearly twelve million people have now received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and more than 31 million doses have been distributed, or only about 31% hve been used. The experts are recommending mass vaccination clinics complemented by other distribution methods to achieve President Elect Biden’s promised goal of 100 million doses in the first 100 days.
I have been consistent in my posts that the current vaccination program is much more bureaucratic and not customer friendly at all. It needs to follow the proven track record of how drugs are made available to the patients through the normal channel of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies by involving pharmacists and nursing. It can give a big boost by organizing mass clinic program in a stadium or a convention center as a start.
President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday night announced his nearly $2 trillion economic plan to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and 400 billion of the plan is focused on measures aimed at controlling the pandemic.
Now let us go to today’s Covid numbers
MD (26**) VA (19**) NY (4**) US
New cases 1,769 7,245 13,410 172,652
No cases 328,417 446,550 1,287,593 24, 628,198
Case per mil pop 54,289 52,317 66,188 74,405
Death last 24h 29 10 183 1,807
Total deaths 6,596 5,739 41,164 405,623
Death per million pop 1,091 672 2,116 1,235
Projected death by May1 9,200 9,400 50,200 566,7200
Test (mil) 6.5 5.9 29.2 300.6
% Positivity 8.2 14.0 6.5
Tests per million pop 1,071,970 695,239 1,499,248 908,190
Nursing home deaths 3,040 2,776 21,000* 110,00*
* Not updated
**The number in parenthesis represents the ranking of the states by the highest number of infections. Our state Maryland ranks 26 now. It had ranked as high as the 19th during the early days, but as the surge spread to the Southern and Midwestern states, its ranking came down.
Similar numbers for Nepal based on worldometer.info are; Total infections 267,992, Infections per million 9,108, Deaths 1,969 Death per million 67, Tests 2.02 mil and Tests per million 68,712 It ranks 42 out of 220 countries.
Now lets find out about Covid vaccines
With demand high and supplies low, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he wants to go straight to the source. He wants to bypass the federal government and buy his own doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, State and city vaccine centers are overwhelmed and frustrated New Yorkers have been unable to get vaccinated. Add that to a decision by the federal government to cut New York’s weekly vaccine allotment and you have the perfect storm driving Cuomo to act. He’s taking out his checkbook and trying to buy supplies directly from Pfizer.
He claims that unlike vaccine maker Moderna, Pfizer doesn’t have to take orders from the federal government. “Pfizer is a private company. They produce it on their own. They can do what they want with it,” Cuomo said. In the letter to Pfizer, the governor promised that, “The distribution of any doses obtained directly from Pfizer will follow the rigorous guidance the state has established, well enabling us to fill the dosage gap created this week by the outgoing federal administration.”
This is just manifestation of Governor Cuomo’s frustration over the Covid-19 pandemic. First it does not make sense for states to start buying vaccines on their own. It will just pit one state against another just like what happened in the early stage of the pandemic when the states outbid each other in purchasing the PPE. Interestingly Governor Cuomo was the one who raised voice against it and requested the Federal government to be involved and formulate a nationwide program.
Pfizer did not turn down the governor’s request, but said the feds would have to green-light it. “… Before we can sell directly to state governments, HHS would need to approve the proposal,” the company said. That’s not likely given what HHS told CBS2’s Jessica Layton, that New York has only administered 54% of the doses it has received. “Given the state could nearly double its vaccinations with what it actually has on the shelf, we are perplexed as to why Gov. Cuomo is trying to. Currently as indicated by the data, the states have not been able to utilize more than 54% of the doses distributed to them and many states haven’t utilized even 50% of the doses distributed to them.
Meanwhile we hear the success story of other countries like Israel which have implemented vaccination program for its citizens. India is launching am ambitious vaccination plan to vaccinate its 1.2 billion people within a year and using locally produced two different vaccines. It has even offered to donate its vaccines to its neighbors including Nepal.
So, my dear friends, vaccine is here. Some people have already received it. Let us be patient and eventually, our turn will come. Let us pray and hope that the new incoming Biden administration will fulfill its pledge of vaccinating 100 million people in its first 100 days. It does not plan to reserve the second dose and instead wants to vaccinate as many people as possible hoping that the manufacturers of vaccines can keep pace.
Give it some time and ultimately common sense will prevail and the bureaucratic barriers will be removed, and with stakeholders involved, it will be a smooth effective operation, and you and I will get vaccinated. In the meantime, until that happens,
BE SAFE and STAY SAFE. WEAR FACE MASKS AND FOLLOW SOCIAL DISTANCING and avoid GATHERINGS
Note: As a part of providing the latest information on Covid-19 pandemic and my insights based on my experience in clinical research with drugs, used to prevent and treat the Influenza virus, I had started posting reports daily on my FB page and the DNC AAPI since the start of the pandemic. Since the number of cases went down very significantly in the summer in our area, I have changed it to posting twice a week only.
There have been so much misinformation, disinformation and confusion about Covid -19 that I hope my attempt to provide updates and insight would be helpful in understanding and coping with the Covid-19 pandemic better.