Should Powers Help With Worldwide Vaccination?
- As a renewed sense of optimism sweeps across the US this summer with fewer reported COVID-19 cases, the US Director General of Health has issued a warning for those who are not vaccinated: no let your guard down yet.
"For those who are not vaccinated, they are at increasing risk as more and more variants develop," Health Director General Vivek Murthy told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Wednesday, specifically citing B.1.617.2, or Delta variant, first identified in India.
"The news about the Delta variant is evidence why it is so important for us to get vaccinated as soon as possible," he said, adding that it is more transmissible and potentially more dangerous.
Concern in England for variant of covid-19 1:07
The concern about the risk of variants that end a reopening at the national level is shared by many experts and health officials.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted in an interview with CNN that the UK was previously affected by variant B.1.1.7, or Alpha, before Delta infections became predominant.
'We don't want to let what is currently happening in the UK happen in the US, where there is a problematic variant that essentially becomes the dominant variant, which has made it a very difficult situation in the UK, "he said. this Wednesday, adding that the Delta variant accounts for more than 6% of the sequenced virus in the US.
While the United States "has done very well" with vaccinating its population, Fauci said, "we cannot declare victory prematurely because there is still a substantial proportion of people who have not been vaccinated."
Vaccination rates across the country continue at an uneven pace.
Recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as the CDC, shows that eight states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont, which leads the country with nearly 60% of residents fully vaccinated.
The United States may continue with slow vaccination rates for now, says one expert.
But it leaves us vulnerable for later in the face of covid-19
Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming have the lowest vaccination rates in the country, according to CDC data.
And officials urge citizens that the best way to anticipate variants is with vaccines.
Murthy told CNN: "The good news is that when they looked at the Pfizer vaccine, they found that it was quite effective after two doses to protect even against the Delta variant."
States look to the future
In another example of local optimism with improved COVID-19 numbers, about two dozen states have decided to reduce their daily tracking of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University this week.
Many states have reduced to five updates per week, but others have reduced it to three times or less.
Florida, for example, reduced to once a week.
Some health officials, however, are calling this measure premature in the face of current vaccination rates, citing necessary improvements in these areas before states can release the accelerator on Covid-19.
Should Powers Help With Worldwide Vaccination?
"As far as I know, we are still in a public health emergency as a country ... That has not been downgraded yet," Lori Tremmel Freeman, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN on Wednesday.
"An end goal is to get to the point where even those who don't get vaccinated are at much lower risk, and no one I know has actually reached that number," Freeman said of herd immunity.
This week, several states across the country also announced plans to further loosen their covid-19 protocols.
South Carolina lifted an emergency order imposed on the state, touting what Gov. Henry McMaster called the "timid" approach the state took to closures and restrictions.
"You no longer need to have a state of emergency, although you still need to be smart, follow the rules, follow the guidelines and be very careful," McMaster said.
In New York, the state plans to lift "virtually all" restrictions related to the pandemic when 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said in a press release Wednesday.
The state is currently at 69.1%, according to the statement.
Expiring vaccines are a new concern
With the lag in vaccination rates, some states are reporting that they have doses of the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine that expire before they are used.
"There have been state health officials who have been sounding the alarm for months, which would soon reach the point where supply exceeds demand in these states," CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said Wednesday.
Unaccompanied immigrant children receive vaccinations 0:45
The seven-day average of vaccinations administered daily in the U.S. was more than 1.12 million, a slight increase from early June, but much lower than the average maximum of 3.38 million injections per day reached April 13, according to data from the CDC this Wednesday.
For Johnson & Johnson vaccines that remain in the US, which only require one dose when distributed and have a three-month shelf life at refrigerator temperature, low demand means doses are not used and may expire soon .
Nearly 11 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, about half of the 21.4 million doses that have been delivered to states and other jurisdictions, have not been administered, according to CDC data.
Potentially expired coronavirus vaccines make up 1-2% of vaccines distributed to states, a source familiar with the federal vaccination effort told CNN on Wednesday.
Dr. Fauci said Wednesday that the US Food and Drug Administration is "very, very carefully" looking to extend shelf life or reassign Johnson & Johnson vaccines that are scheduled to expire.
Biden asks to be vaccinated now to reach 70% of inoculated 1:22
Speaking at The Wall Street Journal's Tech Health event on Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson President and CEO Alex Gorsky said the company is working to ensure its vaccines can be used and implemented effectively.
"We are working very hard, both at the federal level and at the local level, to do everything we can to ensure that these vaccines can be used and deployed in the best possible way," said Gorsky.
“The good news was that we put out a lot of vaccines to meet this initial surge in demand and now we make sure we get the best possible deployment and allocation, and the delivery system becomes even more agile, more flexible, not just here in the States. United.
States, between states, but in fact all over the world it will be a job that we must continue to focus on in the coming weeks and months, "he said.
Covid-19 Coronavirus Vaccine