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Covid-19: US tops 25 million coronavirus cases

More than 25 million cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed across the United States.

Experts say the true number is likely to be higher. More than 417,500 in the US have died with the virus.

The daily number of deaths has exceeded 4,000 in recent weeks – including on Wednesday when Joe Biden was sworn into office.

President Biden signed a raft of new measures last week, including boosting vaccinations and testing.

He has implored Americans to wear masks and warned the death toll could get much worse.

“Let me be clear – things will continue to get worse before they get better,” he said.

President Biden’s efforts follow widespread criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.

How bad is the situation across the US?

Infections have spiralled in recent months – with a jump in new infections after Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

Hospital numbers hit their highest levels during the pandemic earlier this month but are slowly starting to drop alongside daily cases.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said on Thursday that rolling average data appeared to show infections levelling off.

NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci addresses the daily press briefing
Dr Fauci says he hopes vaccines could bring “a degree of normality” to the US by Autumn

Although the national picture has stabilised slightly, he warned the country remained in a “very serious situation”.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is particularly concerned that new variants could accelerate the virus spread.

The strain has been detected in 20 states, Dr Fauci said Thursday, but warned the country had “limited ability” to track its spread through the population.

What is being done to combat the virus?

President Biden has already enacted a raft of executive measures to combat the virus and he wants Congress to pass a $1.9tn (£1.4tn) package of economic relief funding.

The president is hoping to get bipartisan approval for his broad stimulus agenda, but the proposal has already been met with scepticism and resistance by some Republicans.

The director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, was expected to speak with a group of senators from both parties on Sunday about Mr Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

“If we don’t act now, we will be in a much worse place, and we will find ourselves needing to do much more to dig out of a much deeper hole,” Mr Deese said of the need for economic action.

Another one of the new president’s key promises is to oversee 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, but some have criticised this policy as not ambitious enough.

People enter a COVID-19 vaccine distribution site in New York
New York cancelled and postponed thousands of vaccine appointments this week over supply issues

“When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible,” Mr Biden said on Thursday when asked if his goal was high enough. “Come on, give me a break, man. It’s a good start.”

The CDC said 1.6m doses of Covid-19 vaccines had been administered on Friday alone, helping to the US to top 20.5m doses given out in total.

Some 41.4m doses have been distributed so far, according to the CDC, but officials in some states have complained about supplies running low.

BBC map showing total reported vaccine doses administered per 100 people

New York City postponed 23,000 vaccination appointments this week due to a shipping delay, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The current approved suppliers – Moderna and Pfizer – have pledged to deliver 200 million doses by March. Dr Fauci has also suggested emergency approval of a third vaccine, a single-dose jab by Johnson & Johnson, could be just weeks away.

Dr Fauci, who was appointed chief medical adviser by the new president, has expressed hope that if 70-85% of the US population is vaccinated by the end of summer, the country could “approach a degree of normality” by autumn.

“It’s not going to be perfectly normal, but one that I think will take a lot of pressure off the American public,” he told a White House briefing.

President Biden’s administration has also re-engaged with the World Health Organization (WHO) and is joining its Covax programme to help ensure vaccine access worldwide.

The move was welcomed by WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. BBC

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