Biden Warns of Danger of Delta Variant as US Set to Miss Vaccination Target
President Joe Biden warned that although America has COVID-19 “on the run” the latest variant is of particular concern among those who remain unvaccinated – as the president’s goal of 70% of US adults receiving at least one shot of vaccine by the Fourth of July holiday was set to fall short.
New US cases of coronavirus jumped by 10% in the past week as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads, especially where vaccination rates are low, The Guardian reported.
“I am concerned that people who have not gotten vaccinated have the capacity to catch the variant and spread the variant to other people who haven’t been vaccinated,” Biden said on Friday, adding, “I’m not concerned there’s going to be a major outbreak … another epidemic nationwide. But I am concerned lives will be lost.”
Celebrating strong data on jobs on Friday, Biden stated, “Our economy is on the move, and we have COVID-19 on the run.”
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Rochelle Walensky, noted areas with low vaccination rates were becoming hotspots for new infections, even while the situation in the country as a whole was improving.
Nearly 25% of new US infections have been linked to the “hyper-transmissable” Delta variant, first identified in India, up from 6% in June.
As of July 1, 66.8% of US adults have received at least one dose of vaccine. A total of 54.6% of all Americans have received one or more shot.
“We’re very, very close to that [government] goal,” stated Iwan Barankay, a professor of business economics and public policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
But he added, “We need to aim for higher than 70% to get us to herd immunity. We have to think clearly about who [has] not gotten vaccinated yet and understand why … we have to think about the people who are just vehemently opposed, based on their pure convictions or how they understand the evidence and science.”
Barankay said the federal funding and supply of vaccinations was already there for communities that have low vaccination rates, but that state and local governments need to carry the torch the final stretch to persuade people, with decentralized messaging, to get the shot.
“I’m actually quite impressed how many people got vaccinated, my benchmark was how many people would get a flu shot in a bad flu year,” he continued, adding that is usually about 55% of people.
The US has recorded 33.7mln coronavirus cases and 605,000 deaths, the highest totals in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus resource center.
The US will see surges in cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in areas where vaccination rates are low, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to Biden, has predicted.
The Delta variant is highly contagious and is now present in at least 98 countries. On Saturday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that vaccine availability around the world was being “outpaced by variants”.
Asked if it was more lethal than other variants and if he was concerned it could cause a spike in cases as businesses and society reopen, Fauci told NBC News, “I don’t think you’re going to be seeing anything nationwide, because fortunately we have a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated. So it’s going to be regional.”
Fauci said Americans could find the situation “confusing” as Delta cases rise.
“We’re going to see … almost two types of America,” he said, adding, “You know, those regions of America which are highly vaccinated and we have a low level of dynamics of infection.”
“And in some places, some states, some cities, some areas, where the level of vaccination is low and the level of virus dissemination is high – that’s where you’re going to see the spikes,” he continued.