Delta variant: The US states are in danger right here
According to CDC data, approximately 45.1% of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and in 16 states and Washington, DC, that percentage is up to half. But some states – like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wyoming – have less than 35% of residents fully vaccinated. The Delta variant, believed to be more communicable and cause more severe diseases, could see spikes in infections, but levels will vary based on vaccination rates in each area, said Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner for US Food and Drug Administration, in CBS’s “Face the Nation”.
“When we look at the United States, we see huge differences in vaccination rates,” said Gottlieb, who compared places like Vermont and Connecticut with rates in excess of 80% to others who struggle to get to 50%.
New research suggests that less vaccinated areas are at risk. Helix scientists analyzed nearly 20,000 Covid-19 tests collected since April and found that the Delta variant is increasing rapidly in counties with fewer vaccinated residents.
Delta spread models show that the decline could peak around 20% of the infections recorded in the US in January, but the distribution of these projected increases is not evenly distributed across all areas, Gottlieb said.
“For example, Connecticut, where I am, is not showing an increase in infection, but Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri is showing a very significant increase in infection. That is based solely on how much population-wide immunity you have from vaccinations, ”he said.
Put focus on communities
More than 300 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the United States, an feat that has allowed students to go back to the classroom, reopen businesses, and re-gather friends and families.
But there is still a long way to go, warned CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, on the weekend.
“We definitely have to acknowledge that we have come a long way and overcome the worst. We are not going to see the massive climbs we saw over the vacation,” said Wen, the former is Baltimore Health Commissioner.
“The problem, however, is that we should really look at the numbers for each community instead of looking at the US as a whole, because while the US as a whole is doing so much better, and there are parts of the country that have very high vaccination rates, we also have parts of the country that are going through a massive surge where their hospitals are filling up again, “Wen said.
The US has been focused on getting vaccines into mass vaccination sites, but now is the time to rethink the way doses are made accessible, Gottlieb told CBS.
“Now we need to think about trying to get the vaccine to community sites where people can deliver it to them through a trusted intermediary, that is, doctors’ offices, schools and workplaces,” Gottlieb said. “We need to think about a different vaccine delivery strategy to get the people who are still hesitant or who are still facing challenges to these access points.”
While health experts agree that full vaccination offers protection against some variants of Covid-19, Wen added that it is not known if a vaccine-resistant variant will emerge. “We just don’t know. If there is anything we learned during Covid-19, it is how humble we have to be in the face of this virus,” she said.
She noted that “certain” new varieties will emerge that may make vaccines somewhat ineffective, but not entirely.
“This is another reason why those who are not vaccinated should be vaccinated as soon as possible,” Wen said.
Worrying variants are increasing
The Delta variant, along with the Gamma or P.1 variant, has been classified as a variant of concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – meaning that their risk stems from their ability to transmit more easily or cause more serious diseases .
The gamma variant first identified in Brazil was discovered in every US state where the CDC has variant information.
Vaccination has proven to be the best way for the US to stay ahead of the variations. A recent study by Public Health England found that two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are “very effective against hospital stays” caused by the Delta variant. The study found the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine to be 96% effective against hospitalizations after two doses.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy previously told CNN that there isn’t enough data to show the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine on the Delta variant, but it has been shown to prevent hospitalizations and deaths, when people are infected with other strains.
“The key is to get vaccinated, get both doses,” Murthy said.
Steve Edwards, the CEO of CoxHealth, a system of hospitals and clinics based in Missouri, told CNN on Friday that the Delta variant was different from others.
“We cannot say why one patient is bad and another is good. It’s just different how this variant affects our patients’ immune systems, ”said Edwards.
He said that in addition to the low vaccination rates in Missouri, the Delta variant was playing a big role in the increase in cases in his hospitals.
“I think the Delta variant is why,” said Edwards. “Much of the South, the Midwest, many of the places with low vaccination rates – when faced with the Delta variant, patient increases will be similar to what we’re beginning to see right now.”
CNN’s Aya Elamroussi., Virginia Langmaid, Naomi Thomas and Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report.