Just days after reaching a horrific new milestone in its COVID-19 fight, the US has once again broken its daily death toll record.
On Friday, the country confirmed 3309 new coronavirus deaths, smashing the previous record of 3206 recorded on Wednesday.
Before that, the previous daily fatality record was 2769 recorded on May 7.
To put these recent daily death tolls in perspective, more people are dying on a daily basis from coronavirus than the 2996 people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The daily death tolls have also been consistently higher than the fatalities from the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour that killed 2403 people.
Director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Robert Redfield, warned the daily deaths could exceed those caused by these historical events for months to come, meaning at least another 300,000 Americans will lose their lives.
“Probably for the next 60 to 90 days, we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had on 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbour,” he told the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday.
Yesterday, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use.
President Donald Trump labelled the approval a “medical miracle”, claiming the vaccine will save millions of lives and “end the pandemic once and for all”.
However, Dr Redfield said the US likely won’t see any impacts from the vaccine for some time.
“The reality is the vaccine approval this week is not going to really impact that, I think, to any degree for the next 60 days,” he said.
Americans are expected to start receiving the jab from Monday, with health workers and those with a higher risk of becoming critically ill from the virus first in line for the vaccine.
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General Gus Perna, who is overseeing the massive logistical operation as part of the government’s Operation Warp Speed, likened the moment to D-Day, the turning point of World War II.
“I am absolutely 100 per cent confident that we are going to distribute safely, this precious commodity, this vaccine, needed to defeat the enemy COVID,” he told reporters.
“Expect 145 sites across all the states to receive vaccine on Monday, another 425 sites on Tuesday. And the final 66 sites on Wednesday, which will complete the initial delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.”
The US has now recorded more than 16 million COVID-19 infections and has almost reached 300,000 deaths.
The virus is running rampant across almost every US state and with no blanket set of COVID safety measures in place for the country, it seems the vaccine is now the region’s only hope of slowing infections.
The top US infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, said it was “disconcerting” to see so many US citizens refusing to follow basic measures to protect themselves and others around them.
Wearing masks, physical distancing and avoiding large crowds and indoor congregations are all simple measures that have a huge impact on whether COVID numbers will surge or remain under control.
“They seem simple in the backdrop of the enormity of the problem that we are facing but we know when you compare comparable situations in which one state, city, town or even country implemented these measures of public health mitigation, that they were either able to prevent surges or turn around the dynamics of a surge,” Dr Fauci said during a Wall Street Journal CEO Council summit on Tuesday.
“And yet, we don’t do that uniformly and its really extraordinarily frustrating because we feel strongly that we will be able to have a significant impact.”
He noted that even in parts of the country where people are dying daily from coronavirus, there are still some that deny its impacts, adding it is something he has never witnessed before on such a massive scale.
“The trouble is, you go to different parts of the country, and even when the outbreak is clear and hospitals are on the verge of being overrun, there are a substantial proportion of the people who still think that this is not real, that it’s fake news or that it’s a hoax,” Dr Fauci said.
“It’s extraordinary, I’ve never really seen anything like this. We’ve got to overcome that and pull together as a nation uniformly with adhering to these public health measures.”