Move around the United States today and it may appear as though life has returned to what passed for normal prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic that claimed more than 600,000 lives in America. This is a mistaken perception, however, and retailers may be compounding it by going along with consumers, who for one reason or another, refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine or wear a face mask while remaining unvaccinated.
Twenty-four states have seen recent increases in COVID-19 cases, with 51.7 percent of all infections now tied to the Delta variant, a more highly transmissible form of the virus, according to an estimate by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers from Georgetown University have identified five large population clusters around the U.S. that are most at risk. These are located in states where vaccination rates are low and disinformation about the virus and immunizations is widespread. Parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas are included in this group.
Missouri has seen the biggest increase in cases in recent weeks with health officials in the Springfield area reporting that 15 of the 17 who have died between June 21 and July 4 were unvaccinated.
Andy Slavitt, a former adviser to President Biden’s COVID response team, told CNN that the new variant is “twice as infectious” as previous strains, calling it “COVID-19 on steroids.”
A new scientific report by French scientists published in Nature has found that mutations in the new variant allow it in some cases to get around immunities created via vaccination and previous infection. A single dose of vaccine, the study found, offers “barely” any protection from the effects of the virus, although “administration of two doses generated a neutralizing response in 95 percent of individuals.”
Both of the studies did find that people who have received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca are least at risk from infection or adverse consequences, although even those people are not fully immune and may still contract the disease and spread it to others.
Pfizer issued a statement this week that it now expects that those who received its vaccine will need a booster six months to a year after receiving their second shot. The company is currently engaged in tracking results of a third dose trial in India with encouraging results.
- COVID Data Tracker – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- 5 areas with low COVID vaccine rates put U.S. at risk, experts say – CBS News
- Missouri leads the nation with the most new COVID-19 cases per capita – KBMC News
- Most recent COVID deaths in Springfield area weren’t vaccinated. Is it a warning sign? – The Kansas City Star
- Delta variant is ‘Covid-19 on steroids,’ expert says, with cases increasing in nearly half of US states – CNN
- US COVID-19 Vaccination Tracking
- Reduced sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 variant Delta to antibody neutralization – Nature
- Infection and Vaccine-Induced Neutralizing-Antibody Responses to the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617 Variants – New England Journal of Medicine
- Pfizer and BioNTech Provide Update on Booster Program in Light of the Delta-Variant – Pfizer