The number of people who have died due to the coronavirus in a single day in the United States has reached a new record as the country reported more than 3,157 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The grim figure, reported on Wednesday, came as new hospital admissions went past the 100,000-mark, prompting health experts to warn that the numbers are likely to increase.
Wednesday also saw more than 200,000 new infections confirmed in the US, the second time in less than a week, according to Johns Hopkins.
The US has reported almost 14 million coronavirus cases and more than 273,000 deaths.
“We are now in that range, potentially, to start to see 150,000, 200,000 to 250,000 deaths a day from this virus,” Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Al Jazeera.
“So the mortality concerns are real and I do think, unfortunately, that before we see February, we could be close to 40,000 to 50,000 who have died from the virus.”
The worrying projection came as the United Kingdom granted emergency approval to the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine after results showed its jab was 95 percent effective.
A US Food and Drug Administration panel of external advisers will meet on December 10 to discuss whether to recommend emergency-use authorisation of the Pfizer vaccine.
Moderna’s vaccine, which employs similar technology as Pfizer’s and was also nearly 95 percent effective in preventing illness in a pivotal clinical trial, is expected to be reviewed a week later.
US officials hope that 40 percent of adults in the US could be given the shots in three months.
“We can make our first shipment of the vaccine to states this month and we are on track to be able to ship enough vaccines for 20 million Americans before the end of the year,” said US health secretary Alex Azar.
“Of course we are all eager to vaccinate every American who wants it .. and we expect to be at that point by the end of the spring,” he added.