Nearly a year to the day after the Chinese city of Wuhan went into lockdown to contain a virus that had already escaped, President Joe Biden began putting into effect a new war plan for fighting the outbreak in the U.S., Germany topped 50,000 deaths, and Britain closed in on 100,000.
The anniversary of the lockdown Saturday comes as more contagious variants of the coronavirus spread and efforts to vaccinate people against COVID-19 have been frustrated by disarray and limited supplies in some places. The scourge has killed over 2 million people worldwide.
In the U.S., which has the world's highest death toll at over 410,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci said a lack of candor about the threat under President Donald Trump probably cost lives.
Fauci, who was sidelined by Trump, is now the chief medical adviser to Biden in an ambitious effort to conquer the virus. He told CNN that the Trump administration delayed getting sound scientific advice to the country.
“When you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful,” he said.
Biden signed a series of executive orders Thursday to mount a more centralized attack on the virus and has vowed to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days, a number some public health experts say is not ambitious enough.
Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said the U.S. should aim to vaccinate 2.5 million a day.
“This was already an emergency,” Topol said, but with more contagious mutations of the virus circulating, “it became an emergency to the fourth power.”