Second Covid-19 wave hangs heavy over the US

The US is back on Covid watch full-time as the second wave hammers the country ahead of a push to get mass vaccinations underway.

The agenda in the US has shifted back to the fight against Covid-19.

Many Americans have started once again to abide by the stay-at-home rule, with the number of cases passing the 15 million mark and deaths passing 280,000.

In the past month, there have been more than four million new cases reported. Unfortunately, the consequences of five million Americans travelling for Thanksgiving has started to cost lives.

It's now quite clear that Americans will not heed the warnings given by authorities not to travel for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In short, the second wave has hit hard.

The US is still arguing that no sufficient measures have been employed. Aside from a few states proposing the stay-at-home rule, there are no federal restrictions or strict measures imposed. Therefore, people expect that President-elect Joe Biden will use a different strategy to combat Covid-19 once he's inaugurated in January.

The Food and Drug Administration will meet on December 10 to approve the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and will give permission for the emergency use of the vaccine on the same day.

As will be recalled, the US initially ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, worth $1.95 billion, from Pfizer and BioNTech. In this context, Dr Moncef Slaoui, an American Muslim of Moroccan origin, and who was appointed by President Trump as the head of the 'Warp Speed' vaccination program, has announced that 20 million Americans should be immunised in December, then 30 million more in January and 50 million in February.

In addition, on December 17, the FDA is meeting to approve the vaccine produced by Moderna. Frankly, the fact that two different vaccines may be ready for distribution within this month is the best news of this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the vaccine will first be given to healthcare workers and long-term residents of nursing homes as a priority. This is estimated to be approximately 24 million people. The vaccine will be given to the American people at no cost, according to the CDC.

Dr Celine Gounder from Biden’s Covid-19 Advisory Board stated that they will prioritise administering the vaccine to non-white communities, who suffer disproportionately from the pandemic. The COVID Tracking Project revealed that Black people died from Covid-19 at twice the rate of whites, and the death rate of other non-whites is also higher than the white population.

According to the latest vaccination survey done by Gallup, 58 percent of Americans are ready to be vaccinated - this rate was 50 percent in September. Even though the rate is 61 percent among white Americans, the numbers fall back to 48 percent for other races and ethnicities.

The biggest reason for those saying they won’t get the vaccine is their belief that the vaccine process was rushed. Other reasons include wanting to make sure the vaccine is safe, preferring to see the effectiveness of the vaccine, and then there is a portion of people who are anti-vaxxers.

I spoke with Dr Sine Aras Akten, a successful Turkish-American doctor in New York, who showed me that the pandemic is in a far more critical state compared to the first wave in March. The holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving and Christmas will have an outsized impact on the cases. According to her projection, a total of 320,000 Americans may lose their lives across the US by the end of this year.

Akten, the author of the book COVID-19 Chronicles of a Turkish Physician, further stated, “Considering the previous pandemics, the patterns of social behavior, and the modern means of logistics, we will be able to return to the new normal late next year, that is masks but no social distancing, and to completely normal within about two years, early 2022."

Currently, all eyes are on Biden’s presidential inauguration ceremony, which will be held on January 20, and the steps he will take thereafter. Small businesses are suffering and they don’t know how much longer they can hold on. Since January 2020, 56 percent of Washington DC’s job losses, or 30,100 jobs, were in the hospitality and leisure sectors. Most places are closed, and you don’t see people out on the streets much. It is like a dark cloud is overing over the city.

One thing we know is that 2020 is no one’s lucky year. People have been frustrated and ruined socially, economically, psychologically, and in many other ways. Even though the pessimism surrounding Covid-19 has decreased with the manufacturing of the vaccines, we need another year to recover from the wounds Covid-19 has caused.