At the mid-April peak, healthcare workers administered more than 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. The pace of vaccination fell steadily from that time to early June before stabilizing at around 1 million doses per day.
Complicating matters is the spread of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2), which ravaged India. The variant is now dominant in the U.K. and Europe, threatening to undermine the return to normalcy there.
According to a preprint study, the Delta variant could become dominant in the U.S. within a matter of weeks. Indeed, the variant already is the cause of almost half of COVID-19 infections in some Midwest and mountain states, said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in a briefing on Tuesday.
Researchers have concluded that the Delta variant is considerably more contagious than the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) and the strain that first emerged from Wuhan.
The rise of the Delta variant “increases the impetus to drive vaccination rates higher (putting countries with lower vaccine access at greater risk),” concluded UBS analyst Dan Brennan in a briefing note.
The variant could also influence government authorities’ decisions regarding the need for boosters in the fall. While a committee of CDC scientists concluded more data are needed to recommend boosters to the overall population, immunocompromised and elderly patients will likely benefit from boosters.
Both Moderna (NSDQ:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) are developing COVID-19 boosters.
Filed Under: Infectious Disease
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