The coronavirus spike currently sweeping the US is likely to be the ‘last big surge’ of the pandemic and could start to get better by early next year as vaccines become available, according to experts.
Former FDA commissioner Dr Mark McClellan said he believes the ‘months ahead are going to look better than the weeks’ to come as the country enters a dangerous second phase of COVID-19.
McClellan made the prognosis on Tuesday during a media briefing event at Duke University where he now serves as the head of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy.
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Former FDA commissioner Dr Mark McClellan on Tuesday said it is likely the US is experiencing the ‘last big surge’ of the coronavirus pandemic
Unlike the previous two virus surges, in April and one in the summer, this spike is ‘truly is nationwide’, McClellan said
‘The good news is this is probably the last big surge of this whole acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s been remarkable progress on vaccines,’ he said.
‘Those aren’t really going to be kicking in in terms of reducing risk for a few more months, but it’s not that far away.
‘Things are going to start gradually getting better. [We] won’t be at broad immunity – won’t be past this for still months to come, but it will start getting better by early 2021,’ he added.
The optimistic projection comes after two pharmaceutical companies this week announced major breakthroughs in their coronavirus vaccine clinical trials, putting both on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the US.
Pfizer on Wednesday announced it will apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA within days after final results from its late-stage trial showed its vaccine was safe and 95 percent effective.
On Monday, rival company Moderna also released preliminary data showing its own vaccine was 94.5 percent effective.
McClellan speculated things could start to return back to normal by early next year with the development of the coronavirus vaccine. This week, Moderna and Pfizer announced major breakthroughs in their clinical trials, putting both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the US
Moderna’s vaccine works in the same way as the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, by using genetic material called RNA from the coronavirus to trick the body into making the ‘spike’ proteins that the virus uses to latch onto cells inside the body
But McClellan warned it’s likely most Americans won’t be vaccinated until the ‘second quarter’ or second half of next year.
The first round of vaccines is expected to be reserved for health care workers or for those who have high-risk jobs, and children are yet to be included in the testing.
Until then, McClellan said the nation needs to ‘double down’ to contain the outbreak and Americans should continue following health guidance.
‘People are very frustrated, tired, exhausted by the pandemic at this point, but we always knew this was going to be the toughest part heading into winter – colder weather, people closer together,’ he said.
McClellan warned it’s likely most Americans won’t be vaccinated until the ‘second quarter’ or second half of next year, and people should continue following health advice until then
Even if the vaccine is approved within the next few weeks, the first round is expected to be reserved for health care workers or those who have high-risk jobs, he said
‘We are not in control in any part of the country. In contrast to the previous two surges we’ve seen with COVID, one in April and one in the summer, this one truly is nationwide. It’s affecting different areas differently.’
As of Wednesday there were more than 11,365,000 coronavirus cases in the country and nearly 250,000 total deaths, with the number of new daily cases surging at an alarming rate.
The amount of new cases in a single day has topped 100,000 for 13 days in a row and nearly 70,000 people across the country are now hospitalized for the infection.
The average number of daily deaths hit its highest point since May on Saturday, and again on Sunday, according to DailyMail.com analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
The daily death toll however, is still well below half its peak of more than 2,500 deaths on April 22.