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(CNN) - It
(CNN) - It
may not seem like it right now after a horrible winter, but the US has never experienced such a hopeful moment since the covid-19 pandemic began.
However, the tantalizing promise that comes with the rapid launch of new vaccines is tempered by warnings from President Joe Biden's team that a new cycle of disease, death and isolation may loom if the country tries to seize its freedom too soon.
This Monday it became public that three companies - Modern, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson - will deliver enough doses to fully vaccinate 130 million people, a third of the population, by the end of March.
And the news gets better.
The companies told a key House committee last week that they hope to provide enough vaccines for more than 400 million people - far more than the US population - by the end of July.
Meanwhile, signs of optimism in nations like Israel and the United Kingdom, which are ahead of the United Kingdom in their vaccination campaigns, are only fueling hopes that the United States may be celebrating more than one kind of freedom on July 4th.
But tempering this with wonderful perspective, one of the leading public health experts in the Biden administration issued a blunt warning Monday that a recent slump in new infections had leveled off and more misery was coming.
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Please hear me clearly.
At this level of spread variant cases, we may completely lose our hard-won ground, "said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English) at a covid-19 briefing at the White House.
Walensky spoke out as data showed a 2% increase in the seven-day average of new COVID-19 infections, following a steep decline from a mountainous peak in infections in early January.
“Recent declines appear to be stagnant, stopping at more than 70,000 cases a day.
With these new statistics, I am truly concerned by reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures that we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19, "said Walensky.
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Irreconcilable tension between preventing spread and freedoms
There is an understandable tension that will define the next few weeks.
On the one hand, there is the understandable desire of citizens to get out of the grim and exhausting purgatory of physical distancing, and on the other, there is the serious concern of public health professionals that relaxing restrictions will fuel the spread of variants of Covid-19 that they could make vaccines less effective.
Human nature and dire economic necessity may well drown out even more warnings from scientists and healthcare professionals.
Yet tens of thousands more deaths from covid-19, when the end seems to be in sight, would be even more poignant than the loss of half a million Americans so far.
This duality of hope and fear is shaping the politics of the pandemic, which could force Biden to ask state and local leaders to slow down to buy time for vaccines to reduce the rates of new infections and protect hundreds of millions of people.
The president is due to address the current state of the crisis in the White House on Tuesday, and is expected to leave his promise of better days to come with a serious warning of difficult times to endure in the meantime.
Some state and local leaders are already reacting to the rapid decline in the holiday season peak in new infections and deaths by easing restrictions.
Massachusetts is allowing restaurants to open at full capacity, albeit with physical distancing in place.
South Carolina is lifting restrictions on the sale of alcohol and mass gatherings.
Restaurant restrictions are being set in North Carolina.
A handful of states are also in the process of lifting the masks' mandates.
The relaxation of such rules is a response to the decline in the levels of COVID-19 infections.
But they also risk the same kind of resurgence of the infection that was especially seen in southern states in the summer of 2020, when then-President Donald Trump aggressively pushed for the economy to open up.
And with variant concerns so acute, the situation is even more dangerous now.
"This is not the time to loosen restrictions," Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on CNN's "Inside Politics" on Sunday.
"I'm very optimistic about where we will be in May, June, July, but March (and) April seem like difficult months that we have to go through and be very careful," said Jha.
Bringing vaccines into the arms of millions of Americans
The enormous promise of vaccines, and an apparent acceleration in their production and distribution, is not in itself a reason to celebrate.
There are clear disparities between states in the effectiveness of getting doses into the arms of citizens.
That's one reason Biden is so adamant about the need for Congress to swiftly pass his $ 1.9 trillion covid-19 bailout plan, which includes billions of dollars to improve the effectiveness of vaccine programs.
And the return of many lost freedoms in the boreal summer does not rule out a resurgence of Covid-19 when the colder months return and more people gather indoors.
Scientists predict outbreaks of infection even when the worst of the pandemic has passed.
And no one knows yet, because there hasn't been time for peer-reviewed studies, on how long immunity from vaccines will last.
There is also the question of whether at some point, oddly enough now, whether the ability to make vaccines will exceed the willingness of all Americans to take them.
Recent polls have shown that more and more people are willing to take the doses, but they have yet to reach the numbers that would theoretically trigger herd immunity, the time when the virus will not be able to multiply.
In a survey released Friday, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 55% of American adults surveyed have received a vaccine or say they will receive it as soon as possible.
That figure is up from 47% in mid-January and 34% in early December.
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A major concern is the effectiveness of the current generation of rapidly spreading COVID-19 variant vaccines.
However, most scientists believe that vaccines provide the most important benefit: protection against severe disease and death from variants first identified in the UK and South Africa.
The US government's top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, outlined the best way to meet this challenge Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" program.
'You get variants when the virus has a kind of full field of going where it wants to go because people are vulnerable.
If you prevent it through public health measures and vaccination, it will cushion the effect of these variants, ”said Fauci.
Hope from abroad
As Americans wait for their freedoms to return, they can look abroad to countries with smaller populations for a glimpse of what might happen.
Global cruise line Royal Caribbean International announced Monday that it would begin travel from Israel via the Greek islands and Cyprus in May for fully vaccinated passengers and crew members.
Travel will be a major test for an industry devastated by the pandemic.
Traffic is once again clogging Israeli streets and non-essential businesses are opening in some Israeli cities, CNN's "Meanwhile in America" newsletter reported last week.
Early data from Israel shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is also currently offered in the US, is effective in preventing serious illness and death and is helping to alleviate fears of flooding health systems.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told CNN's "New Day" on Monday that more than 20 million people in the UK, almost a third of the population, had already received at least a first dose. of vaccine.
"We are going to open schools at this time next week, then we will open things like grassroots sport and a little more opening up the mix that can be done socially outdoors," Raab said.
"Then, in April, we take another step and in May and June, hopefully, we will move towards a more substantial opening of restrictions."
Britain, which has generally mismanaged the pandemic, although its vaccination effort has been successful, appears to have learned a bitter lesson that premature openings will cause more unnecessary illness and death before the pandemic ends.
Its pubs and restaurants are not operational until mid-April, for example, and are only available for alfresco dining.
The same question of how and when to reopen, hopefully for the last time, is now before the United States, as the great hope that vaccines bring is tempered by the loss and pain that could ensue in the meantime if things turn out to be. rush.
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