The US acknowledges the primary case of a COVID-19 variant as Biden affords dire prospects for vaccines
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US President-elect Joe Biden announces his nominee for the Department of Education
By Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Gorman
WILMINGTON, Del./LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The first known U.S. case of a highly infectious variant of the coronavirus was discovered in Colorado on Tuesday when President-elect Joe Biden warned that it could be years before most Americans currently oppose the Virus vaccinated are distribution rates.
Biden’s prediction of a dismal winter was aimed at lowering public expectations that the pandemic would be over soon after he took office on Jan. 20, while also sending a message to Congress that his administration was spending to speed up vaccine distribution will significantly increase and expand testing and funding for states to help reopen schools.
Biden, a Democrat, said about 2 million people had been vaccinated, far fewer than the 20 million outgoing Republican President Donald Trump promised by the end of the year. Biden defeated Trump in a November election.
“Efforts to distribute and administer the vaccine are not progressing as they should,” said Biden in Wilmington, Delaware. At the current rate, “it will take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”
Shortly after Biden’s statements, Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis said his state had discovered a case of the highly infectious variant of coronavirus B.1.1.7, which was first discovered in the UK. Scientists there believe the variant is more contagious than other previously identified strains of the SAR-CoV-2 variant.
It has been detected in a number of European countries as well as Canada, Australia, India, South Korea and Japan, among others.
Polis said in a statement the infected patient was a man in his twenties with no recent travel history who is currently in isolation in Denver.
“Public health officials are conducting a thorough investigation” and the person “has not yet identified any close contacts,” he said, adding that the state has notified the federal government.
Biden’s goal of ensuring 100 million vaccinations are given by the end of his 100th day in office would mean “increasing the rate five to six times the current rate to 1 million shots a day,” Biden said, noting that Congress this would need additional funding to approve.
Even at such an ambitious rate, it would be months before the majority of Americans were vaccinated, he said, adding that the situation may not improve “well into March”.
Biden also said he plans to invoke the Defense Production Act, which gives the President the power to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security or other reasons to expedite the production of vaccine materials.
Trump himself invoked the law during the pandemic.
In order to safely reopen schools, Biden says Congress must allocate funds for additional transportation so students can keep social distance and improve ventilation in school buildings.
Congress also needs to fund more testing and help pay for protective equipment for health care workers, Biden added.
Trump defended his administration’s record after Biden finalized his remarks.
“It is up to the states to distribute the vaccines once the federal government has brought them to the designated areas. We not only developed the vaccines, including raising money to move the process forward quickly, but we also developed them into the states brought, “he said on Twitter.
Trump, who had COVID-19 in October, has often downplayed the severity of the pandemic and oversaw a response that many health experts believe was disorganized and unconcerned, and sometimes ignored the science behind disease transmission.
HARRIS RECEIVES THE Vaccine
Earlier in the day, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received a COVID-19 vaccination live on TV to increase confidence in the vaccination.
Harris, who is black and Asian American, received the Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc Vaccine in a medical center in mostly black southeast Washington. The Biden team has highlighted the importance of vaccination in non-white groups that are particularly hard hit by the coronavirus.
Biden has vowed to make fighting the coronavirus, which has infected more than 19 million people and killed over 334,000 people in the United States, top priority. He received his first injected dose last week. Two doses are required for complete protection.
Dr. Atul Gawande, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, told CBS News the transition team still does not have all of the information needed to understand the vaccine distribution bottlenecks.