UPMC doctor: Don’t count on COVID-19 vaccine this year

by PublicSource Reporters

Calling the race to a COVID-19 vaccine “this generation’s moonshot,” UPMC health officials on Tuesday refuted President Donald Trump’s pledge that doses would be available by the end of this year.

“The chance of that happening is almost nil,” said Dr. David Nace, UPMC’s chief medical officer.

Holding up a surgical mask during a press conference, Nace added, “This – whether you’re young or old – is your current vaccine.”

In a wide-ranging press conference to discuss the confluence of an expected COVID surge with the upcoming influenza season this fall, UPMC officials also said that viral transmission most likely occurs via large respiratory droplets. Some emerging research has found transmission through aerosols, which can remain suspended in poorly circulated air.

The world surpassed more than 1 million COVID-related deaths Monday, according to John Hopkins University.

In the United States, 205,091 people have died.

The 1,002,394 fatalities worldwide mean the United States accounts for 20% of all deaths. The U.S. has roughly 4% of the world’s population.

The Allegheny County Department of Health [ACHD] reported 71 additional COVID-19 infections Tuesday and no new COVID-related fatalities. The newly reported cases bring the total count since March 14 to 12,305 infections.

The case tally released Tuesday came from 736 tests conducted from August 29 through September 28. The new infections were among patients aged 16 to 91 years old, with the median age being 38. Roughly two out of every three of the newly reported cases were in people younger than 50.

To date, the county has had 380 deaths and 1,211 people hospitalized because of the virus.

Southwestern Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health [DOH] reported 988 new infections and 16 additional fatalities Tuesday, bringing the statewide tallies to 157,814 cases and 8,123 COVID-related deaths.

Each region of the state has seen a significant increase in cases among younger Pennsylvanians, specifically 19 to 24 year olds. Southwestern Pennsylvania, which includes Pittsburgh, however, has seen one of the greatest spikes in this age group. In April, roughly 5% of cases in the region were among 19 to 24 year olds. So far in September, the age group represented 29% of new COVID infections. The previous high was in July when this cohort hit 21%.

Still, personal care and nursing homes bear the brunt of the deaths, with residents representing about 67% of all COVID-related fatalities in the state.

Roughly 10,710, or 6.8% of all infections, are among healthcare workers, a percent that remained steady throughout the summer surge.

County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

A staff member at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital receives an influenza vaccine during the health system’s Operation One Shot, held in September at multiple facilities. (Screenshot)




UPMC doctor: Don’t count on a COVID-19 vaccine this year

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