New York pleads for more COVID-19 vaccine as daily U.S. death toll hits record

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the United States recorded its highest single-day death toll since the coronavirus pandemic began nearly a year ago, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday said the city would fall short of its innoculation goals unless it could gain access to more vaccine.

The mayor said short supplies were hampering New York City's efforts to ramp up its vaccinating capacity. His appeal comes as the country as a whole struggles to meet an overall goals, with vaccinations now running far behind a targed of 20 million people by now.

"We need the federal government, the state government and the manufacturers to step up and get us more supply immediately,” de Blasio said at a briefing.

The country's most populous city is adding vaccination sites across its five boroughs, including its two Major League Baseball parks, and has succeeded in loosening restrictions on the availability of vaccines, de Blasio said.

New York is on track to inoculate 1 million of its more than 8 million residents by the end of the month, but only if it gets enough vaccine, he said.

"I confirmed with our healthcare team yesterday that even with normal supplies that we expect to have delivered next week, we will run out of vaccine at some point next week, unless we get a major new resupply," he added.

Nationwide, only about one-third of the 29.4 million doses distributed to states have been administered, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the vaccine from Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE and a second vaccine from Moderna Inc for emergency use. Both vaccines require two doses spaced a few weeks apart.

The chief science officer of Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N said the company is on track to roll out its single-shot coronavirus vaccine in March, and plans to have clear data on how effective it is by the end of this month or early February.

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Dr. Paul Stoffels also said J&J expected to meet its stated target of delivering 1 billion doses of its vaccine by the end of this year as the company ramps up production.

The country's struggle to inoculate its population comes as the number of people to die from the disease hit a daily record 4,336 on Tuesday according to a Reuters tally.

The daily toll brought the number of U.S. COVID-19 casualties to 380,524, with the number of cases at 22.7 million by Tuesday night, more than any other country.

The widely cited model of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation expects January to be the pandemic's deadliest month so far in the United States.

The virus is projected to take more than 108,000 lives this month before death rate ebbs as move vaccine is administered, the IHME said. By April 1, it expects a death toll of 567,000.On Tuesday, federal health officials agreed to release millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses the government had held back for second shots, and urged states to offer them to all Americans over age 65 or with chronic health conditions. [L1N2JN0P1]

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a news briefing that the U.S. pace of inoculations has risen to 700,000 shots per day and is expected to rise to 1 million per day within a week to 10 days.

A leveling-off of the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization has emerged as an encouraging sign in the past week. Coronavirus hospitalizations were 130,823 by Tuesday night, little changed from a week earlier, according to a Reuters tally.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; additional reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago)

01/13/2021 20:30

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