- The U.S. last week vaccinated an average of 1.16 million Americans per day.
- President Joe Biden has promised to do everything in his power to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office.
- A new coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson could receive emergency use authorization from the FDA in the near future.
The coronavirus vaccination effort in the U.S. hit an incredibly important milestone recently. According to Bloomberg’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker, the U.S. last week administered an average of 1.16 million vaccinations per day. This is an encouraging data point and perhaps signals that President Joe Biden’s promise to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days of office might actually be doable. All told, an estimated 22.4 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine over the last five and a half weeks.
The broad takeaway here is that the bureaucratic red tape and inefficiencies that plagued the initial vaccine rollout appear to be waning. And with states poised to expand vaccine coverage soon, it stands to reason that the vaccination rate will hold steady and perhaps even increase over the next few weeks.
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Another reason to be optimistic about vaccination efforts in the U.S. is that Johnson & Johnson is expected to release the results of its Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial before the end of the month. If the results are encouraging, an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA could follow shortly and, in turn, significantly boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Touching on this point, Johnson & Johnson board member Dr. Mark McClellan recently told CNBC that the company could have “enough vaccines for 100 million Americans by spring.”
Not only that, but Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine only requires the administration of a single dose, as opposed to the two-dose schedule required by Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines. Further, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine doesn’t need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures.
If COVID-19 vaccine supply and administration continue to increase, Dr. Fauci believes there’s a chance the U.S. could achieve herd immunity as early as June.
“The real bottom line is when do you get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated so that you can get that umbrella of herd immunity?” Fauci asked rhetorically last month.
“I believe if we’re efficient about it and we convince people to get vaccinated, we can accomplish that by the end of the second quarter of early 2021, namely by the end of the late spring, early summer,” Fauci said. “It’s really going to depend on the efficiency of the rollout.”
Of course, nothing is for certain given the inherent unpredictability of the virus. As a prime example, a more contagious COVID strain from the UK has been discovered in more than 20 states and could potentially cause another surge of infections. Consequently, some health experts believe that the worst of the pandemic could still be ahead of us.
Recently, infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm said that the next three months “could be the worst part of the pandemic.”
“I hope I’m dead wrong,” Osterholm added.
Vaccines aside, another piece of encouraging news is that the recent surge of coronavirus infections is finally on the decline. Over the last two weeks, the rate of new COVID infections across the U.S. has gone down by 31%. On Saturday, new COVID cases were in the range of 176,000, the lowest figure the U.S. has seen since early December.
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