Friday, 18 December 2020

Dr. Fauci DENIES he ever said Christmas could be canceled - but calls for a 'modified celebration' as US sees second deadliest day of pandemic with 3,438 deaths and a record 242K daily cases

 Dr. Anthony Fauci clarified that Christmas doesn't have to be canceled this year but people should take extra precautions at holiday gatherings as the nation reported a record 242,000 new COVID-19 cases and an all-time high of more than 114,000 hospitalizations.  

On Thursday the nation reeled from the second deadliest day of the pandemic with 3,438 deaths reported, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The country also recorded 241,620 new infections with a seven-day rolling average of 214,741 cases.

Hospitalizations also surged with more than 114,237 being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals across the country. 

The grim milestone comes one day after the US shattered a record for daily COVID-19 deaths with more than 3,600 Americans dead in 24 hours on Wednesday. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the US has recorded more than 17 million coronavirus infections and more than 310,000 deaths with no signs of the curve slowing down. So far, December marks the second deadliest month of the pandemic after April.

On Thursday the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee endorsed Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, all but assuring the shot will get the emergency approval by the end of the week. 

The vaccine is more needed than ever as hospitalizations continue to soar and intensive care units are overwhelmed. In Southern California the intensive care unit capacity plunged to zero percent. Hospitalizations per million people are now higher in the West and Northeast than in the Midwest.

However, the threat of the pandemic doesn't have to end all holiday festivities, the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases says. Fauci advises people have 'modified' celebrations that avoid travel.

'I’m not saying that everyone should cancel the family gathering, I’m saying that people will need to make individual choices,' Fauci said to Fox News' Bill Hemmer Reports on Thursday.   

Dr. Anthony Fauci clarified that Christmas doesn't have to be canceled this year but people should take extra precautions at holiday gatherings as the nation reported a record 242,000 new COVID-19 cases and an all time high of more than 114,000 hospitalizations

Dr. Anthony Fauci clarified that Christmas doesn't have to be canceled this year but people should take extra precautions at holiday gatherings as the nation reported a record 242,000 new COVID-19 cases and an all time high of more than 114,000 hospitalizations

On Thursday the US reported all-time highs in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations with 241,620 infections reported and 114,237 people being treated in hospitals for the virus

On Thursday the US reported all-time highs in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations with 241,620 infections reported and 114,237 people being treated in hospitals for the virus

The virus surges: The US has recorded more than 17 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic

The virus surges: The US has recorded more than 17 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic

As of Thursday the nation has recorded more than 310,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic

As of Thursday the nation has recorded more than 310,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic

In other COVID-19 news today: 

  • The FDA's vaccine advisory panel recommended Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for distribution and it is expected to be granted emergency use authorization on Friday 
  • ICU capacity in Southern California, which covers Los Angeles and San Diego, fell to 0 percent 
  • California alone reported more than 250,000 new cases this week and hospitalizations have more than doubled in six of the state's counties since Thanksgiving  
  • Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen will receive the vaccine on camera live on Friday morning to boost Americans' confidence in the shot  
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a polio survivor, says he'll get the vaccine in the coming days 
  • Lawmakers said they were nearing a long-elusive bipartisan deal on $900billion in economic relief

Fauci clarified that he never said that the holidays had to be canceled this year. 

'I've heard and seen tweets saying, "Fauci says cancel Christmas!" Nonsense. I’ve never said that,' Fauci said. 

'You have some Christmas dinners [where] people bring friends and others in who travel from different parts of the country. You could have 15, 20 people at a dinner. That's really somewhat risky. You can do a modified version of that,' he explained. 

'You don't have to cancel things, you can still spend time with your family. I'm just asking people to be careful when it comes to travel that may not be necessary, travel that you can avoid, and when you get together, try to make some limitation to it,' he added.

However, Fauci himself won’t be celebrating Christmas with his three daughters for the first time in his life this year. 

'You don't have to cancel things, you can still spend time with your family. I'm just asking people to be careful when it comes to travel that may not be necessary, travel that you can avoid, and when you get together, try to make some limitation to it,' Fauci said

'You don't have to cancel things, you can still spend time with your family. I'm just asking people to be careful when it comes to travel that may not be necessary, travel that you can avoid, and when you get together, try to make some limitation to it,' Fauci said

Since the start of the pandemic the US has recorded more than 17 million cases and more than 310,000 deaths with no signs of the curve slowing down. So far, December marks the second deadliest month of the pandemic after April

Since the start of the pandemic the US has recorded more than 17 million cases and more than 310,000 deaths with no signs of the curve slowing down. So far, December marks the second deadliest month of the pandemic after April

Hospitalizations per million people are now higher in the Northeast and West than in the Midwest

Hospitalizations per million people are now higher in the Northeast and West than in the Midwest 

Fauci was asked about his stance on New York City’s two-week indoor dining ban due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Big Apple, which has crippled already struggling eateries. 

The shut down has been controversial as only 1.4 percent of new coronavirus cases have been traced to restaurants and bars.  

'Well, you know, what we really need to do is make sure when we say limit restaurant capacity or close restaurants or close the bars, that has to be accompanied by relief, financial relief for the restaurant owners and the bar owners,' Fauci said. 

'Because certainly if you do that, if you shut down those establishments, you're going to diminish the transmissibility of infection. But you can't do it in a vacuum. You've got to help those people out. They've got to get some relief,' he added. 

'We can't ask people to participate in a public health measure that unquestionably is damaging to their financial solvency without coming in and trying to help,' Fauci said. 

The 79-year-old, who turns 80 on Christmas Eve, said he hopes to receive the COVID-19 vaccine 'in the next few days.'

He said he thinks Moderna will join Pfizer to inoculate Americans this month.

On Thursday the FDA¿s vaccine advisory committee endorsed Moderna¿s coronavirus vaccine, all but assuring the shot will get the emergency approval by the end of the week. Zita Konik administers the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to William Foster, a staff member at the Redwoods, a skilled nursing facility in Mill Valley, California on Thursday

On Thursday the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee endorsed Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, all but assuring the shot will get the emergency approval by the end of the week. Zita Konik administers the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to William Foster, a staff member at the Redwoods, a skilled nursing facility in Mill Valley, California on Thursday

Catheterization laboratory tech Sky You, 57, is given the Pfizer vaccine Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center in Glendale, California on Thursday

Catheterization laboratory tech Sky You, 57, is given the Pfizer vaccine Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center in Glendale, California on Thursday

A doctor pictured working with a patient in the COVID ICU in Providence Saint John's Health Center on Tuesday in Santa Monica, California

A doctor pictured working with a patient in the COVID ICU in Providence Saint John's Health Center on Tuesday in Santa Monica, California

Physicials pictured tending to a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Sharp Grossmont Hospital on Monday in La Mesa, California

Physicials pictured tending to a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Sharp Grossmont Hospital on Monday in La Mesa, California


On Thursday all but one of the 21 voting experts recommended that Moderna's shot get emergency authorization, with one abstaining, and it's likely that the new vaccine will receive emergency use authorization by the end of the week.

'Our vote was even more overwhelming tonight than last week's - I don't think that anyone should interpret the difference in the votes being one way or another comparing the two vaccines that we considered,' said panel moderator Dr Arnold Monto, adding that the benefits of both Moderna's shot and Pfizer's are clear. 

Agency scientists confirmed that the shot is more than 94 percent effective in a data review published Tuesday.

The recommendation comes a week after the same panel of 23 experts met and recommended approval of Pfizer's vaccine, which was then greenlit last Friday, and given to the first Americans Monday. 

Pfizer's vaccine was slightly more effective in trials - preventing 95 percent of COVID-19 cases - but Moderna's shot is easier to distribute because it does not need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures. 

The US plans to ship just under 6million doses of the Moderna vaccine next week when it's approved. 

Moderna's doses will be critical to meeting Operation Warp Speed's - the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine initiative - goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, which will require 40 million collective doses of Moderna's and Pfizer's shots. 

Pfizer's first wave of 2.9 million vaccine doses are shipping this week. All states have now received their first doses and Operation Warp Speed says the rollout is 'on track,' but it is slow going. 

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine will likely soon joing Pfizers.  Moderna's doses will be critical to meeting Operation Warp Speed's - the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine initiative - goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, which will require 40 million collective doses of Moderna's and Pfizer's shots

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine will likely soon joing Pfizers.  Moderna's doses will be critical to meeting Operation Warp Speed's - the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine initiative - goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, which will require 40 million collective doses of Moderna's and Pfizer's shots

Kevin Stone administers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Marie St. Juste-Dory, a staff member at the Redwoods, a skilled nursing facility in Mill Valley, California on Thursday

Kevin Stone administers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Marie St. Juste-Dory, a staff member at the Redwoods, a skilled nursing facility in Mill Valley, California on Thursday

Douglas Long prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the staff at the Redwoods, a skilled nursing facility in Mill Valley, California on Thursday

Douglas Long prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the staff at the Redwoods, a skilled nursing facility in Mill Valley, California on Thursday

Clinicians transfer a COVID-19 patient to a RotoProne therapy bed in the Intensive Care Unit at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, California

Clinicians transfer a COVID-19 patient to a RotoProne therapy bed in the Intensive Care Unit at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, California

Only 5,200 people have been vaccinated in New York City, as well as 19 in Michigan and 10 in Idaho. Most states are not yet reporting vaccination tallies, and a small number doses of Pfizer's delicate vaccine have had to be sent back to the manufacturer or thrown out due temperature control issues. 

The second vaccine couldn't come sooner. 

On Thursday intensive care unit (ICU) capacity plummeted to 0 percent in Southern California after the state reported more than 52,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, according to NBC Los Angeles.

In California, the nation’s most populous state, more than 16,000 patients are hospitalized – nearly triple the number from one month ago.

Southern California has reported 0 percent ICU capacity, San Joaquin Valley 0.7 percent, Greater Sacramento Region 11.3 percent, the Bay Area 13.1 percent and Northern California 25.8 percent.

There have been several hiccups in the distribution of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, including the first allergic reaction to an inoculation in the US reported in Alaska on Wednesday. 

Pfizer also announced it will deliver about 900,000 fewer doses next week than are set to ship this week. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced that federal officials had decreased the state's allocated doses by 30 percent on Wednesday evening. 

Alabama and California also had their supplies cut short after four trays of the vaccine - each with about 975 doses - were recalled by Pfizer because they were too cold. Florida Gov Ron DeSantis has said that shipments of hundreds of thousands of doses had been delayed due to 'a production issue with Pfizer'. 

In more positive news, the Food and Drug Administration reportedly informed states that Pfizer overfilled vials of its vaccine by up to 40 percent, allowing more people to be vaccinated if clinicians use every drop in the tiny glass bottles. 

The apparent mistake means Pfizer is shipping enough vaccine to give 4.06 million Americans their first dose, instead of the intended 2.9 million doses, according to Politico. 

On Thursday Health and Human Services Secretar Alex Azar spoke on the trays of frozen vaccine vials sent to certain states in the Pfizer vaccine distribution. 

'We had a couple of shipments where there was an excursion of temperature that went actually below the cold limit to minus 92. We immediately saw that because of the tracking systems we have in place, the real-time tracking,' Azar said.

'We pulled those trays, and we immediately sent substitute trays,' he added.

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