How many Americans are there in hell?
Corona in the USA: From Covid-19 hell to vaccination miracle
Just a few months ago, the corona situation in the USA was a cause for great concern. Now the tide has turned. President Joe Biden is full of pride - even if the successful vaccination campaign is not only thanks to him.
"Appointments twelve o'clock or earlier," calls Sergeant Stephen Conkey. "Twelve o'clock or earlier!" Calls the soldier again and walks towards the group that is walking towards him from the parking lot. "On sale today: Pfizer" is emblazoned on a white banner - what sounds like a canteen marks the entrance to one of the US mass vaccination centers.
In Baltimore, Maryland, the local football club's stadium has been vaccinated against Corona for almost a month. National Guard soldiers have come to support. Where in normal times there is space for more than 70,000 fans, several thousand vaccine doses can be injected a day in the pandemic.
The gigantic vaccination centers are part of the success story told by US President Joe Biden on Thursday, almost two months after he moved into the White House. One of his key promises in the fight against the pandemic was that 100 million doses of vaccine would be administered in the first 100 days of his tenure. On Friday, White House corona coordinator Jeff Zients announced the goal had been achieved - in just 58 days, weeks ahead of schedule.
US President Joe Biden: He warns about the scenes on television - about scenes like in Europe. (Source: Pool CNP / Media Punch / imago images)
Last year, given the dramatic course of the pandemic, the United States was not to be envied, especially from Europe. The country has - in absolute numbers - to complain about more pandemic deaths than any other: almost 540,000. More than 29.6 million infections have been detected. On Thursday, Biden cited Europe as a chilling example of what happens if caution in the pandemic wears off too quickly. "Please, please, don't let what happens in Europe happen as you see it on television," he says to his compatriots.
"It's something you have to do - like with measles"
In the USA, the curve of daily new infections is not going up, but that of vaccinations. According to the US health authority CDC, more than 115 million doses have been administered since the vaccination started in mid-December - a good month before Biden took office. More than 12 percent of the total population is already fully vaccinated. For comparison: In Germany, the rate of fully vaccinated people is just 3.7 percent. According to Biden, an average of more than 2.5 million doses are now injected per day in the USA.
A vaccination center in California: In the USA, medical staff vaccinates in parking lots in front of supermarkets and amusement parks. (Source: Mike Blake / Reuters)
Promise is in the air in Baltimore. "Ending Covid begins with us" reads anyone who leaves the vaccination center in the direction of the parking lot. Roy Longanecker accompanied his mother Annerose to the stadium. Relief is written on her face at the exit. "I had absolutely no concerns. It's something you have to do - just like we had to do with measles when we were young," says Annerose Longanecker. The 75-year-old originally comes from Kassel. Her husband worked for the US secret service near the German-German border. In 1967 she went to the USA with him.
She was amazed at how smoothly the appointment went, says Annerose Longanecker - first the registration via iPad, then the vaccination on the upper level of the stadium. "We spent an hour on it, but it felt like time had passed."
Trump submitted - Biden added
"A vaccinated America is the only way to defeat the pandemic, get our economy back on track, and get our lives and loved ones back," Biden said at a recent meeting with the heads of the pharmaceutical companies Merck and Johnson & Johnson. "The vaccinations bring hope and healing in so many ways." Since taking office, the new president has put pressure to speed up vaccinations.
Biden has accused his predecessor Donald Trump of failure in the pandemic. The vaccinations give Biden good news at the start of his term in office. But the fact that the EU states are now looking enviously to the other side of the Atlantic is not only thanks to him. Trump's government laid the foundation for this.
Vaccination center in the USA: Biden does not want to acknowledge that Trump has paved the way for the vaccination campaign. (Source: Irfan Khan / Reuters)
The large-scale project called Operation Warp Speed has pumped billions of dollars into the development, manufacture and distribution of vaccines and drugs against the coronavirus. However, the new government has no praise for the preparatory work. "I don't think anyone deserves credit when half a million people in the country have died from this pandemic," Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki said recently.
A "shot" in front of the amusement park
When Gonzalo Cruz left the football stadium in Baltimore, he hit his right upper arm several times with his left hand. "It didn't hurt at all," he says. "You feel safer, we will all feel safer." His 26-year-old son Juan, who accompanied him, has already seen two mass vaccination centers up close. Juan said he got his own "shot" - his shot, as they say in the USA - in the parking lot of the Six Flags America amusement park east of the capital Washington. He didn't even have to get out of the car to do this. He does not know exactly why he has already been vaccinated. His girlfriend suggested that he register too - and it worked.
The civil protection agency Fema lists five different types of vaccination centers. In repurposed stages, up to 6,000 vaccinations can be given each day. According to this, some hospitals have capacities of up to 3,000 doses a day, plus mobile vaccination clinics, pharmacies or supermarkets.
A woman receives a vaccination against the coronavirus: Blacks are often attacked by racism in the US health system. (Source: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)
Each state determines who prefers to have a vaccination. In many places it is currently the turn of the elderly, people with previous illnesses or members of certain professional groups. Biden has instructed the states to generally open vaccinations by May 1st at the latest. By the end of May, vaccine should be available to all approximately 260 million adults in the United States.
The vaccinated are American and white
But not everything is going as well as health experts would like it to be in the USA either. White Americans make up the bulk of those fully vaccinated - just under 70 percent. Less than seven percent are black, although their proportion of the total population is much higher. Their low vaccination rate is explained, among other things, by the deep-seated distrust in the country's health system, where they are still confronted with implicit racial prejudice and discrimination.
After vaccinating his mother at the football stadium, Roy Longanecker says he didn't expect the vaccination campaign to go so well. And he recalls a quote from the former British Prime Minister: "Winston Churchill once said that the US doesn't do the right thing until it has tried everything else. And I feel like we are at that point. We tried everything else. And we finally got a system. "
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