Discussion: Surging coronavirus cases and new vaccines

The World
Updated on
A woman is shown center frame pulling two rollaboard suitcases while wearing a face mask.

Travelers wear masks at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Nov. 29, 2020.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

With new reported cases of coronavirus spiking across the country, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning against Thanksgiving travel just a week before the holiday.

Still, nearly 1.2 million people passed through US airports Sunday, the greatest number since the pandemic gripped the country in March. The increase in travel during the US holiday has many health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warning that the level of infection could skyrocket even further.

“So clearly in the next few weeks, we’re going to have the same sort of thing. And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line ... we may see a surge upon a surge,” he said.

The US is seeing more than 160,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. As in much of the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom saw a sharp resurgence of coronavirus infections this autumn, and officials there have already imposed a second round of severe restrictions.

The suffering has been especially acute in the UK, where more than 57,000 people have died in Europe’s deadliest outbreak and the economy has plunged into the worst recession on record.

As the news worsens while infections surge, Moderna announced Monday it plans to submit its data to regulators in the US, Europe and UK for authorization for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine. The move comes after the US drugmaker showed its vaccine was more than 94% effective in the late-stage study. The positive news around Moderna’s vaccine trials come less than two weeks after Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced success with their own coronavirus vaccine.

Despite the potential for a coming vaccine, steps such as mask-wearing and social distancing remain important in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.

As part of our regular series of conversations about the pandemic, The World’s Elana Gordon moderated a discussion with Megan Murray, an epidemiologist and an infectious disease physician at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

This discussion is presented jointly by The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The AP contributed to this post.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.