The toll of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, which topped 500,000 deaths on Monday, is “heartbreaking,” US President Joe Biden said in an emotional address from the House -White. “We must resist the temptation to see every life as a statistic […] We have to do it to honor the dead, ”he added as he prepared to observe a minute of silence in the presence of his wife, Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and his husband, Doug Emhoff. “I also ask that we take action, that we remain vigilant, that we keep our distance, that we wear masks, that we get vaccinated,” he added.
After the speech, the two couples of the American executive appeared in front of the White House, where they meditated for a few moments, first silent then accompanied in this tribute by the very popular hymn Amazing Grace, played by a marine orchestra. Joe Biden then signed himself, surrounded by 500 candles to symbolize the 500,000 dead arranged on the balcony of the White House and on the stairs leading to it, before disappearing from view and cameras.
With at least 500,160 people having succumbed to the virus and more than 28 million cases of contamination, the United States is the country most affected in the world in absolute value by the pandemic.
“More Americans have died in this pandemic than in WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War combined,” the president said earlier Monday in a proclamation, less than a year after the announcement , on February 29, 2020, of the first death from the virus in the United States. The Democratic president had also ordered flags at half mast on all federal buildings for five days.
“This is something that will go down in history,” said immunologist Anthony Fauci, adviser to President Joe Biden.
The threshold of 400,000 deaths had been exceeded a month earlier, on the eve of the induction of Joe Biden, who has made the fight against the epidemic the top priority of his start in office. In the United States, the current rhythm of vaccinations (1.7 million daily injections on average) gives hope, however. “I believe that we will get closer to normality by the end of this year,” Joe Biden said on Friday. More than 44.1 million people have already received at least one dose of the two vaccines authorized in the United States (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), of which 19.4 million have had the two necessary injections.
More Americans have died during this pandemic than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.
According to Joe Biden, 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate the entire population, will be available by the end of July. And the United States may well have a third vaccine authorized by the end of the week, that of Johnson & Johnson, on which a committee is due to issue an advisory opinion on Friday.
A timid optimism echoed on Monday, the announcement of the reopening of New York cinemas, scheduled for March 5, with a maximum level of 25% of the usual capacity and a limit of 50 spectators per room.
Like New York theaters, the UK is expected to gradually reopen after restrictions imposed in early January after an explosion in the variant epidemic that appeared in Kent. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday presented a phased plan to bring the European country hardest hit by COVID-19 out of containment, with more than 120,000 dead.
The British government has announced it is targeting a reopening of non-essential shops and museums from April 12 in England. Cinemas, hotels, stadiums (with a maximum of 10,000 people) and restaurants will follow from May 17th. The aim is to lift the last restrictions in June. The schools will reopen on March 8. With each nation deciding on its deconfinement strategy, schools are gradually reopening from Monday in Scotland and Wales.
The vaccination campaign launched in December is in full swing: one in three adults has received a first dose. By mid-April, those over 50 should all have received a first dose.
In Germany, despite fears of a third epidemic wave linked to the British variant, schools reopen Monday in most of the country with draconian sanitary conditions, after two months of closure. On the other hand, containment measures will be imposed over the next two weekends in France, on part of the Côte d’Azur, with reinforced controls at the airports in the region and at the Italian border.
Worldwide, the pandemic has killed more than 2.46 million people since the end of December, according to a report established by AFP on Monday evening. Governments everywhere are banking on injections to try to end the pandemic: more than 210 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide. UN Secretary General António Guterres, however, denounces “vaccine nationalism”, stressing that “ten countries alone have shared more than three quarters of the doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered to date” .
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