CDC director issues new warning as cases rise: ‘Covid-19 is clearly not done with us’
At least 70% of adults in the US have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccination shot, the White House announced on Monday, reaching a target Joe Biden originally said he had hoped to achieve by 4 July.
The administration reported the news in a tweet hailing “Milestone Monday” by Cyrus Shahpar, the government’s Covid-19 data director, who said the seven-day average of people receiving their first dose – 320,000 – was the highest since the Independence Day holiday.
Health and government officials have in recent days painted the resurgence of coronavirus as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, highlighting that areas of the country with the most spread were those with lower than average vaccination rates, and almost all hospitalizations and deaths are now among those declining to be vaccinated.
“Communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, noting that “breakthrough” infections in vaccinated people were rare.
But with unvaccinated people increasingly at risk, Walensky said at the White House coronavirus team briefing on Monday: “While we desperately want to be done with this pandemic, Covid-19 is clearly not done with us, and so our battle must last a little longer.”
The US is seeing an average of 72,000 new cases of Covid-19 per day, higher than last summer’s surge, when vaccines were still in development and new daily cases reached 68,700, according to the CDC. Cases remain a lot lower than the pandemic peak of early January 2021, which saw more than 250,000 new cases a day as vaccines were starting to become more widely available.
On Monday, a state-by-state study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that less than 1% of fully vaccinated people experienced a breakthrough infection, ranging from 0.01% in Connecticut to 0.9% in Oklahoma.
Additionally, more than 90% of all cases, and more than 95% that resulted in hospitalizations or deaths, were among unvaccinated people, the study found.
Figures published by the CDC on Monday added that 49.7% of the US population who were eligible were now fully vaccinated, and that demand for the shots had increased by 28% from a week ago to reach a new daily average of 673,185 vaccinations administered.
A senior Biden administration official said on Friday that the White House was frustrated by what it saw as “alarmist” reporting by some media outlets over the Delta variant, and was worried that coverage of rare breakthrough cases could lead to more vaccine hesitancy.