Delta variant makes up 6% of US COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 viruses under microscope
COVID-19 viruses under microscope

Stuart Rankin / Flickr cc

The Delta variant, a highly contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in India and also known as B1617.2, now accounts for about 6% of US infections, Anthony Fauci, MD, the chief medical adviser to the White House, said yesterday.

The variant has become the dominant strain not only in India but also the United Kingdom, where younger people are getting sick more frequently.

Fauci said the transmissibility of the Delta variant should prompt any eligible American who has not done so yet to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, as preliminary data show the Pfizer vaccines is 88% effective against the Delta strain.

But despite a nationwide push to vaccinate 70% of American adults with at least one dose of vaccine before the Fourth of July, White House officials are now quietly resigned to not reaching that goal, as daily vaccinations have dropped to under 400,000 shots administered each day.

According to the Associated Press, roughly 15.5 million adults would need to receive at least one dose in the next 4 weeks to get to the 70% goal. Fourteen states have met the goal, and another 12 are likely to by Jul 4. But some states, such as Mississippi, would need almost another year to reach the goal if their vaccination pace remains the same.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker shows 372,100,285 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 303,923,667 have been administered, with 140,441,957 Americans fully vaccinated.

Yesterday, the nation reported 13,011 new COVID-19 cases and 380 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The official total has reached 33,400,766 US cases and 598,598 deaths.

US to donate 500 million vaccine doses  

Later this week at the Group of Seven meeting in England, President Joe Biden is expected to announce that the United States plans to buy 500 million Pfizer doses to donate around the world, according to the Washington Post.

CNN is reporting that the doses will be distributed through COVAX, an effort led by the World Health Organization aimed at equitable vaccine distribution, and given to 92 low- and middle-income countries.

Also today, Pfizer announced it was advancing phase 2/3 trials of its COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 using a lower dose than is used for adults, ABC News reports.

The study will include 4,500 participants from the United States, Poland, Finland, and Spain. The two-dose mRNA vaccine is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in US children ages 12 to 17 and all US adults.

All doses administered to those 12 and up contain 30 micrograms of vaccine. In the trials, 10 micrograms of vaccine will be administered to children ages 5 to 11, and just 3 micrograms to those under 5.

In other vaccine news, the FDA told state officials yesterday to hold on to soon-to-be expired doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as it waits for new data that could show the shots remain viable beyond their expiration date, according to Kaiser Health News. The doses are set to expire at the end of the month.

Governors, including Mike DeWine of Ohio, have gone public with pleas to get vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses set to expire in the coming weeks. DeWine has said there is no legal way for Ohio to get rid of the 200,000 unused vaccines. Instead, DeWine is asking any unvaccinated Ohio adults to please get a shot.

Other US Developments

  • A Wisconsin pharmacist who intentionally tried to spoil hundreds of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

  • The governors of Florida and Texas are headed for showdowns with the cruise industry over vaccine requirements, CNN reports. The CDC is requiring 95% of passengers and crew members to be vaccinated, and cruise lines have indicated they want everyone vaccinated, but both states have signed laws that prohibit businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination.

  • The CDC has scaled back travel warnings for about 120 countries as vaccination levels grow and cases in many countries decline, according to CNN.

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