More than 25 million persons in the US have contracted COVID-19 and over 417 000 have died as a result. Addressing the pandemic and its effects are high on the agenda of President Joe Biden. Reports are that starting today, just 5 days after his inauguration, the president will sign a travel ban on most non-US citizens who have recently travelled to South Africa where a new strain of the COVID -19 virus has been discovered. To date, the variant has not been detected in the US. It is also expected that Biden will reinstate the travel restrictions on most of Europe, the UK and Brazil that were rescinded by Donald Trump prior to him demitting office as president.
Other measures that will come into effect include the requirement of all US-bound travellers including citizens to show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a flight, and the removal of the option for airlines to apply for temporary waivers for some travellers who are from countries that lack COVID 19 testing facilities. The raft of measures come amidst uncertainties surrounding the number of persons with the UK variant and how deadly it is, questions about the effectiveness of vaccines on new variants, and concerns about the availability and rate of distribution of vaccines even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Even as the President rolls out the ambitious but according to White House chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci, achievable plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in his first 100 days, it may come as a shock that the Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Rochelle Walensky has said that the Federal Government does not know how much vaccine the US has. She reportedly told Fox News that,
“I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have, and if I can’t tell it to you then I can’t tell it to the governors and I can’t tell it to the state health officials.”
With the 100 million shots in 100 days target met some 67 million persons will have been vaccinated some receiving 2 doses. While America races to meet its goals, some countries are barely out of the starting blocks; the uneven track has disadvantaged many countries as they question when they will get the first dose.