US records 1st case of new Covid strain amid delays in vaccination campaign

Washington, Dec 30 (efe-epa).- The United States has detected the first case of the new Covid-19 strain in Colorado even as alarms have begun to sound about the difficulty of vaccinating 20 million people before the end of the year as promised by outgoing President Donald Trump.

The first case of the mutant variant of the coronavirus that first surfaced in the United Kingdom was detected on Tuesday in a man in his 20s who had not traveled anywhere recently, suggesting that he may have been infected locally.

The man is in isolation and public health officials are conducting interviews to identify other potential cases and people who may have had contact with him in recent weeks, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the UK government announced that it had detected a new strain of Covid-19 that appears to be 70 percent more contagious than other variants and could be linked to an increase in infections reported in London and southeast England since mid-November.

The detection of the first case of the mutant strain comes at a time when the pandemic is out of control in the US, the government’s leading epidemiologist, Anthony Fauci, who has been chosen by US President-elect Joe Biden to be his chief medical adviser, admitted on Tuesday.

“We’re in such a surge, as we call it, Jim, that its just gotten out of control in many respects,” Fauci said in an interview with TV channel CNN.

“If you look at the history, going back to the late winter-early spring of 2020, we had a surge in the late winter-early spring, another surge in the early summer. We’re right now in a surge whose incline, whose inflection, is very sharp,” he added.

Fauci also warned that the pandemic could get even “worse” in January because millions of Americans have disregarded health officials’ warnings and traveled during the Christmas holiday to see their families.

The US is already in a critical situation, with 121,235 Covid-19 patients hospitalized on Monday.

Out of these, 22,592 are in intensive care units, according to the COVID Tracking Project platform.

Meanwhile, with just a few days left before the end of the year, Biden and Democratic politicians in some states have begun sounding alarms about delays in the vaccination campaign.

In an address from Wilmington, Delaware, where he lives, Biden said ” the Trump administration’s plan to distribute the vaccine is falling behind – far behind.”

He added that if the current pace of vaccinations continues, “it’s going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”

The US population currently stands at about 330 million.

The president-elect said that weeks ago, the Trump administration said that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of December.

But with just a few days left in the month, only a few million have received the first dose.

So far, just 2.1 million people in the US have received the first dose of the two-shot vaccine series against Covid-19 despite the distribution of 11.45 million doses, according to the US federal agency, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

Local authorities attribute this slower-than-expected rollout to the difficulty in storing the vaccine and staff shortages in some hospitals.

The Health and Human Services Department said on Twitter on Tuesday that 19.88 million doses have already been reserved but that does not mean that they have been distributed to all 50 states yet.

“It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government,” Trump tweeted in response to the criticism.

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