US cannot wait on vaccines to control COVID-19

Following the news that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended emergency approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and that the US has reported its highest one-day COVID-19 death tally;

Kasey Fu, Director of Epidemiology at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:

“News that the US has hit another record in death tolls should not come as a surprise. This is the trajectory the country has been on since October, where daily new cases grew from 45,000 to around 150,000 by November.

“What is surprising is that the number of new cases are increasing even faster than previously modelled. Just a couple of weeks ago, GlobalData predicted that the US would hit 200,000 daily new cases by the end of December – that mark was hit a month early.

“Vaccines are coming, but they will not be available to the general public for months and if the current outbreak situation is not controlled in the coming weeks, many more lives will be lost before the vaccines are made available.

“Mortality data clearly debunks the thinking that this is the same as the flu. The CDC estimated 34,000 people died from the flu in 2018–2019, but already the US has lost more than 290,000 lives from COVID-19. If current trends continue, GlobalData’s models predict that we could see around 20% of the US population infected by May. At the current 1.8% case fatality rate, that’s equivalent to over 1.2 million deaths.

“To put that in perspective, the estimated deaths would make up 50% of all-cause mortality reported in the US for 2018. That’s about the same as death from heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries combined.”

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