While Delta has blunted COVID-19 vaccines’ ability to reduce transmission, vaccines remain effective at saving lives. During the peak of the prior wave, thousands of people died daily from the novel coronavirus. But now, with new cases surpassing 200,000 each day, death rates have only ticked up gradually in the U.S. as a whole. Deaths, however, have marched up considerably in states with low vaccination rates, such as Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida. In such areas, COVID-19 hospitalizations are roughly in line with summer 2020 levels.
“There’s more of a decoupling” between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, said Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, in a webinar last week from the Bay Area Council. “Hospitalizations are mainly among the unvaccinated.” The data illustrating the gulf is “quite clear,” Gandhi said.
While breakthrough infections in the vaccinated have grown more common in the Delta wave, the role of the unvaccinated in driving hospitalizations and death rates upward has elicited consternation from Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Biden.
“As we’ve said all along — this is fundamentally a pandemic among the unvaccinated,” Fauci said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Just over half of the entire public is fully vaccinated, according to CDC.
Yet vaccinations are ticking up, and vaccine mandates are growing more common.
As many health authorities aim to reinstate mask mandates and other protections, some conservative politicians are calling for defiance. Kentucky senator Dr. Rand Paul. “It’s time for us to resist. They can’t arrest all of us,” Paul said in a recent video decrying lockdowns and other measures.
India, where the Delta variant first emerged, and the U.K. provide clues as to what is in store for the U.S. In the highly vaccinated U.K., COVID-19 infections began to drop sharply but later plateaued. Cases there now are about 5% higher than they were a week ago. In India, cases have dropped considerably despite low vaccination rates there. In late July, the country hit the threshold of vaccinating 10% of its adult population. By contrast, the U.K. has vaccinated more than 90% of its adult population.
Filed Under: Infectious Disease