US elections, COVID-19 spread and vaccine efforts

The 2020 U.S. presidential election is about to be concluded, but incumbent President Donald Trump insists on not acknowledging Joe Biden as the president-elect.

According to the unofficial results, Biden, the former vice president, is now set to be the 46th president of the U.S.

It is important to remember that there is a large number of people who are saying that Trump would have won again but for COVID-19. That is, we can say that the disease has harmed Trump, too.

The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and Europe, including Turkey, has created serious concern. In particular, the U.S., the epicenter of the outbreak, has begun experiencing its second COVID-19 wave.

While America’s number of cases has risen to over 12 million, its number of deaths has reached 260,000. The nation has a daily average of over 150,000 cases and around 1,500 deaths.

The scary part is that the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects that the U.S. will have 320,403 deaths by Jan. 1, 2021, and 438,940 by March 1, 2021.

As America’s health system begins to face difficulties again as a result of its increasing number of cases, half of its states are announcing new records in hospitalizations.

While many states have reimplemented stay-at-home orders, schools in New York have once again been closed after the state’s number of new cases exceeded 3%, which is the state limit.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered all indoor gatherings be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while California Gov. Gavin Newsom has suspended all indoor services.

Biden stated that his priority will be the fight against COVID-19 once he takes office, and he held a coordination meeting with state governors last week.

In addition, he is promising the American people that he will beat the virus with the 13-person team of scientists he set up after Nov. 3. Biden has thus far described his plans for the fight against COVID-19 in a very clear and transparent manner.

Biden is also criticizing Trump for not providing support to his transition team. He has said that it is necessary to fight as one “united country” against the coronavirus and pointed out that there will be more deaths unless there is coordination with the current Trump administration.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force has been holding briefings at the White House since July 17. Vice President Mike Pence has said they are concerned about increasing rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, but that they are increasing the number of resources and tests required in response. He added that they are working non-stop on a vaccine.

As a matter of fact, Trump is very resentful, and he blames the pharmaceutical companies for delaying the publication of data related to the coronavirus disease vaccine. That is, he believed it would have been in his favor if the vaccine had been announced prior to the election. It is still a matter of debate whether the pharmaceutical companies delayed the announcement deliberately.

There is another debate ongoing about whether the schools in many states should be closed due to the second wave of COVID-19. Pence pointed out that staying away from schools has negative effects on children and emphasized that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) never recommended the closure of schools.

In fact, the biggest fear accompanying the pandemic is what will happen to the economy. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that unemployment claims increased last week. According to seasonally adjusted data, there were 742,000 initial claims for unemployment, an increase of 31,000 compared with the previous week. Although claims have been below 800,000 for five consecutive weeks, it is the highest rate seen since the 1960s.

Americans’ travel expenditures have fallen by about 40%. It is estimated that the pre-pandemic figures will only be reached in 2024. As a result of this decrease, 3.5 million people in the sector have lost their jobs and about 1 million more will follow without government aid.

If Republicans continue to hold the majority in the Senate, Biden will need to reach an agreement with them on a new stimulus package. The Biden administration will need to achieve drastic economic improvements, carry out several reforms and present a big stimulus package to both America’s companies and its citizens. It seems very difficult for small, medium and large businesses to stay afloat in 2021 without support.

And the vaccine everyone has been waiting for! Pfizer has applied for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use authorization in order to immediately begin vaccinating people. This application came after announcing that the serums they jointly developed with their German partners BioNTech are 95% effective. The company is endeavoring to ensure that the vaccine starts to be implemented in early December.

If the vaccine is released into the market on time and the Biden administration puts forth serious efforts into the fight against COVID-19 and ensures international coordination, we will be free from this nightmare by the middle of next year. Otherwise, a year even worse than 2020 could be awaiting us.

Foreign Policy Expert on U.S.-Turkey Relations, ME, Security, NATO, Transatlantic / Journalist / 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipient