Pfizer and BioNtech announced on Nov. 18 the first set of results from its late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trials, stating it is 95% effective and with no serious side effects. The companies will soon be applying for emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration. This is the latest and arguably most promising piece of good news in the worldwide effort to combat the pandemic, coming just two days after Moderna announced its vaccine had a 94.5% effective rate.
This is good news and a further sign that vaccines will be distributed to some portion of the most vulnerable Americans before the end of the year. The head of the Trump administration’s virus fast-track program, Operation Warp Speed, estimates that 20 million doses could be distributed in December, with widespread vaccination not likely for months. With the virus spreading at its fastest rate ever, Americans await the timetable for distribution and prioritization of the vaccine.
The U.S. has now reported at least 100,000 new cases per day for two straight weeks, by far the most during the pandemic’s history. The nation recently passed 11 million cumulative cases and 250,000 deaths.
While cases are rising in most parts of the country, the extent of the spread of the novel coronavirus continues to vary considerably from state to state, and from county to county.
Using data from state and local health departments, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed the average of daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending Nov. 15 and compared it to the previous week to determine the county in each state where the virus is spreading the fastest, adjusted for the population. Every state has at least one county or county equivalent in which cases have been reported at a growing rate. We excluded counties with populations of fewer than 5,000 people, as well as those with fewer than 20 reported new cases in the past 14 days.
While all counties on the list are those where the virus is spreading the fastest in their respective states, the virus is spreading much faster in some of them compared to others. Nationwide, the average daily new cases increased by 10 per 100,000 in the week ending Nov. 15 compared to the previous week, from an average of 29 new daily cases per 100,000 to 39 per 100,000.
Counties in nine states reported an increase of over 100 average daily new cases per 100,000 residents in the week ending Nov. 15 as compared to the week ending Nov. 8. Meanwhile, in six states, the county with the fastest spread reported a week-over-week increase of fewer than 20 new daily cases, on average. These are the states where the spread of the virus is increasing the fastest.