At the current pace of vaccinations, it will take until mid-February to get at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine to all eligible Americans, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 90 million eligible people in the US are still unvaccinated. And though the seven-day average of people initiating vaccination each day is the highest it has been since July 4 at 446,300, many experts say the US is still not where it needs to be to get the pandemic – and the rapidly spreading Delta variant – under control.
With less than half of the population fully vaccinated, cases have surged again, causing serious illness.
On Tuesday, for the first time since February, more than 50,000 hospital beds across the country were occupied by Covid-19 patients, according to new data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. That number is more than triple what it was a month ago.
“We are not crying wolf here. This surge that we’re going through right now has every potential to be – and already looks to be – the worst surge we’ve faced so far,” former US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said during a live online interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday he would like the US to be at upwards of one million vaccinations per day to close the vaccination gap.
“We may get there when mandates come, but it can’t be 250,000, 500,000 a day, otherwise it’s going to go well into the winter. I want to get there sooner,” Fauci said.
With the spread of the Delta variant, it might not be possible to stop the spread of coronavirus completely, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said Tuesday.
“But we could still get to a place where this becomes a nuisance instead of a threat to your life.”
Although experts have said data so far does not indicate a need for the general population to get vaccines boosters, Fauci said there is an effort underway to get them for immunocompromised people.
Some conditions – including autoimmune diseases, transplants and cancer treated with chemotherapy – compromise people’s immune systems.
“Those individuals we know almost invariably do not have an adequate response, so the need to give them an additional boost is much more emergent than the general population,” Fauci said during a virtual event hosted by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Tuesday.
Vaccine advisers to the CDC have met to discuss whether immunocompromised people may need additional protection from a vaccine booster but have not yet presented a formal recommendation or voted on guidance.
“We are trying very hard to get the regulatory mechanism in place very soon to get those individuals a boost that might bring up their immunity to the level where it should be, if possible,” Fauci said.
During a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Tuesday, Fauci said it’s “very likely” Covid-19 variants evolved in the bodies of those who are immunosuppressed.
People with immune suppression may be unable to fight off Covid-19 infections for weeks or even months, meaning the virus has plenty of time to evolve and change.
“Variants, we all know, have emerged because of the pressure that the human immune system has put on the virus, very likely from people who are immunosuppressed … and had virus in them for days and days and days before they cleared it and/or died, and then essentially led to the emergence of a variant,” Fauci said.