U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ADM Brett P. Giroir testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump Administration’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 23, 2020.Kevin Dietsch | Pool via Reuters A senior administration official said Monday that U.S. health officials are “extremely encouraged” by the announcement that Pfizer‘s coronavirus vaccine is highly effective in preventing Covid-19.The news, combined with progress in the nation’s manufacturing and distribution plans for Covid-19 vaccines, makes U.S. health officials “very optimistic” that the vaccine and others in development “could effectively end the pandemic,” Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters on a conference call.“But until that vaccine is widely administered and distributed, we have much work to do,” he added. “I think we all realize our nation is in a critical phase in this pandemic, with significant community spread, cases averaging 100,000 per day over the last seven days and climbing, increase in hospitalizations with our three-day average estimated to be 61,000.”- Advertisement – – Advertisement – The announcement comes as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the U.S. Over the past seven days, the country has reported an average of about 108,736 new cases per day, up more than 33% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. At least 30 states hit record highs in average daily new cases on Sunday, Hopkins data shows.Health officials fear the situation could become especially dire as people also get the seasonal flu and hospitals fill up. A coronavirus model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, once cited by the White House, now projects more than 399,163 Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. by Feb. 1.A safe and effective vaccine is seen by investors and policymakers as a solution to get the global economy back on track after the pandemic wreaked havoc on nearly every country across the globe and upended businesses. There are currently four U.S.-backed front-runners with a vaccine in phase three clinical trials: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.Even with a vaccine, some infectious disease experts warn the coronavirus is likely to become as “endemic” as the annual flu virus.Giroir on Monday acknowledged that the coronavirus will likely never disappear from the planet. But he said he hopes that vaccines will bring the virus down to low levels and infections will be a rare occurrence, like polio.“Until that time, we have got to do the public health measures,” he said, urging people to wear masks, wash their hands and maintain their distance from others. Earlier in the day, Pfizer announced its vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without prior infection, hailing the development as “a great day for science and humanity.” Comparatively, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a vaccine for influenza reduces the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60% among the overall population.Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla told CNBC that the company is on track to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.“I believe this is likely the most significant medical advance in the last 100 years,” he said. “It is a great day for science. It is a great day for humanity when you realize your vaccine has 90% effectiveness. That’s overwhelming.”- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
Freshman forward Penelope Hocking has scored 6 goals and recorded four assists as a Trojan. She is also a member of the Under-20 Women’s National Team. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)Now halfway through Pac-12 conference play, the No. 2 women’s soccer team will head to Pullman, Wash. on Saturday to take on No. 19 Washington State.After beating Arizona 2-0 and Arizona State 3-1 last weekend, the Trojans look to continue their winning streak and improve upon their overall record of 11-1-1. USC has conceded 5 goals this season, compared to scoring 36. They have outshot their opponents in all 13 matches. Aside from their loss against No. 2 Stanford on Sept. 30, the Trojans are undefeated with 10 shutouts so far. The Trojans have consistently been the first to put points on the board, dominating possession and controlling the pace of the game. They have held opponents to an average of .375 goals per game this season, the best in the Pac-12. Redshirt sophomore goalie Kaylie Collins has seven shutouts, the most in the conference.The Cougars (10-2-0) are coming off a two-game losing streak, their most recent loss being against Utah this past Sunday. The Utes pulled off a 1-0 upset in overtime with a converted penalty kick, handing Washington State its second loss of the season. The Cougars outshot the Utes 9-8, but could not find the back of the net for the first time this season.Coming off two undefeated home games this season, the Women of Troy will hit the road again. “Anytime you go on the road into an environment … where a team is feeling confident, and they are feeling very good at home, we’ve got to make sure we lock in and really focus,” head coach Keidane McAlpine said.Even though the Trojans beat the Cougars 2-1 in last year’s match, McAlpine said that Washington State is a strong team this season and will present a challenge.“They can score, and they can defend, and teams like that are very dangerous,” McAlpine said.The Trojans will prepare for competitive offensive players like Washington State junior forward Morgan Weaver, who has 7 goals this season, tied with USC’s top scorer senior forward Leah Pruitt. Weaver ranks ninth in the country with an average of 5.08 shots per game. Junior defender Maddy Haro ranks second in the nation in assists with 10 and will put up a tough offensive front against the Trojan defense under the leadership of Collins and senior defender Ally Prisock.After a double-header weekend, the Trojans took a rest day before heading into practice to prepare for their game against the Cougars.“Now that we are done with the weekend, we just want to take a good rest day and get recovered,” redshirt sophomore attacker Savannah DeMelo said earlier this week. “And then we want to go into practice working hard and getting ready for Washington State, because we know that they are a great opponent and it’s just going to keep our momentum going into the next [Pac-12] games.”Saturday’s game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network at 7 p.m.