US CDC chief warns of ‘impending doom’ as cases spike

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WASHINGTON

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned on Monday of potential reversal in hard-won gains against the coronavirus as the country experiences a spike in infections.

Cases hit a one-month high on March 24 when nearly 87,000 people were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, upending a steady decline in infections since January. Daily deaths also hit a five-day high with 1,558 recorded that day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky broke from her prepared remarks during a daily coronavirus briefing, saying she has a “recurring feeling” of what she called “impending doom.”

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared,” she said. “Just hold on a little longer, get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends.”

The US is in the midst of a vaccine drive across the country with inoculations from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

So far, 143,462,691 doses have been administered across the country, according to CDC data. Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which comprise the majority of distributed shots, require two separate doses spaced weeks apart, and are not fully effective until two weeks after the final dose is administered.

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been in circulation since December, and the CDC reported Monday that the mRNA vaccines have proven effective in a real-world study that enrolled 3,950 participants over six weeks.

The participants included high-risk frontline workers that are more likely to be exposed to the virus, and the study found that risk of infection was down 90% two or more weeks after the second shot was administered.

After a single dose, risk of infection was reduced by 80%.

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