Figures in the US are painting a more encouraging picture in the country’s Covid-19 battle more than three months into its vaccination drive.
Covid deaths have dropped below an average of 1,000 a day for the first time since November, and 70% of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Dozens of states have thrown open vaccinations to all adults or are planning to do so in a matter of weeks.
And the White House says 27 million doses of both the one-shot and two-shot vaccines will be distributed next week, more than three times the number when President Joe Biden took office two months ago.
Still, the government’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said he was not ready to declare victory.
“I’m often asked, are we turning the corner?” Dr Fauci said at a White House briefing. “My response is really more like we are at the corner. Whether or not we’re going to be turning that corner still remains to be seen.”
Dr Fauci said his hesitancy was based on the fact new cases remain at a stubbornly high level, at more than 50,000 per day.
The US on Wednesday surpassed 30 million confirmed cases, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The number of deaths now stands at more than 545,000.
Nonetheless, the outlook in the US stands in stark contrast to the deteriorating situation in places like Brazil, which reported more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths in a single day for the first time on Tuesday, and across Europe, where another wave of infections is leading to new lockdowns.
The gloom in Europe is compounded because the vaccine rollout on the continent has been slowed by production delays and questions about the safety and effectiveness of AstraZeneca’s shot.
Public health experts in the US are taking every opportunity to warn that relaxing social distancing and other preventive measures could easily lead to another surge.
Dr Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, sees red flags in states lifting mask mandates, air travel roaring back and spring break crowds partying out of control in Florida.
“We’re getting closer to the exit ramp,” Dr Topol said. “All we’re doing by having reopenings is jeopardising our shot to get, finally, for the first time in the American pandemic, containment of the virus.”
Across the country are unmistakable signs of progress.
More than 43% of Americans 65 and older — the most vulnerable age group which accounts for a major share of the nation’s 545,000-plus coronavirus deaths — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centres for Disease Control.
The number of older adults showing up in emergency rooms with Covid-19 is down significantly. Vaccinations overall have ramped up to more than 2.5 million shots per day.
Deaths per day in the US from Covid-19 have dropped to an average of 940, down from an all-time high of over 3,400 in mid-January.