MONDAY, Nov. 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- After millions of Americans chose to travel for Thanksgiving, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on Sunday that a "surge superimposed upon" a surge of coronavirus cases will likely follow.
As the number of coronavirus-related deaths per day rose to its highest point since April, Fauci and other public health officials stressed the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing, the Washington Post reported.
"It's going to get worse over the next several weeks, but the actions that we take in the next several days will determine how bad it is or whether or not we continue to flatten our curve," U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Fox News.
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx told CBS News that the number of coronavirus cases is "three, four and 10 times" as high as it was during the pandemic's second surge after Memorial Day weekend.
"It looked like things were starting to improve in our northern plain states, and now with Thanksgiving, we're worried that all of that will be reversed," Birx said.
The number of coronavirus-related deaths are nearing record levels in the United States and roughly 95,000 people are currently hospitalized with the disease, Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health and human services, told CNN. Roughly 20 percent of all hospitalized people have COVID-19, he added.
As for the future, "we really have to see what this weekend looks like. I can't really project that," Giroir told CNN.
In a bit of good news, the first wave of vaccinations are expected to begin for targeted groups in a matter of weeks, the Post reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on immunization practices will meet Tuesday to vote on coronavirus vaccine priority rankings. Health-care workers are likely to be the first to receive the vaccine once it has been approved, the Post reported. Priority is also likely to be given to nursing home residents and staff, followed by other vulnerable populations. Giroir predicted that the United States should have enough vaccine to immunize 20 million Americans by the end of the year.
"We have to immunize for impact," he said. "The rest of America will get it in the second quarter, third quarter of 2021, but we can maximize our impact right now."
Moderna to request emergency approval for its vaccine
Meanwhile, Moderna said it would apply on Monday for emergency use authorization of its coronavirus vaccine and the first shots could be given as early as Dec. 21, The New York Times reported.
Moderna's application is based on data showing that its vaccine is 94.1 percent effective, and that its study of 30,000 people has met the scientific criteria needed to determine whether the vaccine works. The finding from the complete set of data is in line with earlier data that found the vaccine to be 94.5 percent effective, the Times said.
Not only that, the vaccine was 100 percent effective at preventing severe disease from the coronavirus, Moderna officials said. The product was developed in collaboration with government researchers from the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The company is "on track" to produce 20 million doses by the end of December, and 500 million to a billion in 2021, the newspaper reported. Each person requires two doses, administered a month apart, so 20 million doses will be enough for 10 million people.
Earlier this month, Pfizer asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the same emergency use approval. Pfizer has said it can produce up to 50 million doses this year, with about half going to the United States, the Times reported. Its vaccine also requires two doses per person.
A global scourge
By Monday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 13.4 million while the death toll neared 267,000, according to a Times tally. According to the same tally, the top five states in coronavirus cases as of Monday were: Texas and California with just over 1.2 million cases each; Florida with over 992,600; Illinois with more than 721,000; and New York with almost 646,000.
Curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the rest of the world remains challenging.
Many European countries are tightening restrictions, the Associated Press reported. France has entered a nationwide lockdown, and Germany and Austria have started partial lockdowns as government officials across the continent scramble to slow a sharp rise in infections that threatens to overwhelm their health care systems.
England has followed suit, while Italy, Greece and Kosovo also announced new measures, the AP reported.
Things are no better in India, where the coronavirus case count has passed 9.4 million on Monday, a Johns Hopkins University tally showed. More than 137,000 coronavirus patients have died in India, according to the Hopkins tally, but when measured as a proportion of the population, the country has had far fewer deaths than many others. Doctors say this reflects India's younger and leaner population. Still, the country's public health system is severely strained, and some sick patients cannot find hospital beds, the Times said. Only the United States has more coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, Brazil passed 6.3 million cases and had nearly 173,000 deaths as of Monday, the Hopkins tally showed.
Worldwide, the number of reported infections neared 63 million on Monday, with more than 1.4 million deaths recorded, according to the Hopkins tally.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.
SOURCES: The New York Times; Washington Post; Associated Press