By Michael L Jarvis, London UK
The United States reached a grim milestone on Monday December 14th when it was confirmed that it had crossed the 300,000 mark for the number of people who had died due to COVID-19.
Inasmuch as it was a sad moment to mourn the lives lost, it was but a fleeting moment as the death rate in the US from the coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral.
The US is now leading the world with the most deaths and cases of COVID-19.
The news that the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) has now given emergency approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine as welcome as it was, could not eclipse the heartache felt by relatives, their community and country over the lives lost due to the rampaging virus.
A nationwide inoculation campaign started this week with an ICU (intensive care unit) nurse becoming the first person to be vaccinated in a massive endeavour to halt the spread of the virus in the country.
Healthcare workers and nursing home residents are in the top priority for getting the vaccine.
FDA approval of another vaccine developed by the company Moderna was expected this week.
Just last week, daily COVID-19 in the US exceeded 3,000 for the second time since the pandemic started.
That was linked to the recent Thanksgiving holiday travel and there are mounting concerns that there could be another spike over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The US is presently struggling with a second wave of the outbreak.
Already, modelling of how the virus could further spread is projecting that the death rate could possibly double to between half a million people and 600,000 fatalities by summer next year unless drastic measures are introduced.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has become ensnared in the politics of the country’s presidential election.
President-elect Joe Biden was expected to take a more decisive stance on the issue than the incumbent Donald Trump.
Hospitals in the US are being flooded with COVID-19 patients putting the US healthcare system under extreme strain and at risk of being overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, in the UK also experiencing a resurgence of the virus, several areas of London and the south-east of the country have been placed in the top level of a new three-tier system of restrictions.
The number of confirmed cases, hospitalisations and deaths are also spiralling again leading into the Christmas holidays.
The UK government and health authorities are becoming increasingly concerned about the alarming rise in cases across all age groups and the further pressure this could put on its already stretched National Health Service (NHS).
It is believed that the spike in the number of cases is linked to a mutation of the current virus.
The government says the new strain of the COVID-19 is being analysed but that it is “highly unlikely” that it will be resistant to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The UK was the first country in the world to approve the vaccine and started a nationwide inoculation campaign last week.
Cayman is in line to be one of the first Overseas Territories to receive shipments of the vaccine from the UK.
The first shipment is expected to arrive here by next month when the jurisdiction will start its own voluntary COVID-19 immunisation campaign.