President Joe Biden will address Americans again on Tuesday with a fresh plea for unvaccinated people to get their shots and protect themselves against the delta variant of the coronavirus, that the nation’s leading public health agency has determined is more than twice as contagious as earlier strains.
“The delta variant is highly contagious,” the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said during a Monday briefing. “To put this in perspective: If you get sick with the alpha variant, you could infect about two other unvaccinated people. If you get sick with the delta variant, we estimate that you can infect about five other unvaccinated people — more than twice as many as the original strain.”
The seven-day moving average stood at 72,000 newly diagnosed cases a day, 6,200 hospital admissions a day, and 300 deaths a day, as of July 31, according to CDC data. All metrics have increased at least 25% week-over-week, as the more infectious delta variant spreads throughout the U.S.
Biden will address another key plank of his administration’s strategy to end the virus, that of curtailing the spread of the virus overseas by donating vaccine doses to neighboring countries and farther afield, according to a White House statement.
The U.S. has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine supply to more than 60 countries, working with the World Health Organization’s Covax program, which aims to get vaccines to lower-income countries, as well as other organizations.
“Our goals are to increase global COVID-19 vaccination coverage, prepare for surges and prioritize healthcare workers and other vulnerable populations based on public health data and acknowledged best practice, and help our neighbors and other countries in need,” said the statement.
Biden is scheduled to deliver the address at 3:45 p.m.
The CDC’s vaccine tracker is showing that about 165 million Americans are fully vaccinated, equal to 49.7% of the overall population. That means they have had two doses of the vaccines developed by Pfizer PFE, +3.91% and German partner BioNTech BNTX, +3.41% and Moderna MRNA, +11.51%, or one shot of Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ, +1.23% one-dose vaccine. The AstraZeneca AZN, +0.49% AZN, +0.28% vaccine, widely used in the U.K. and other places, has not been authorized for use in the U.S.
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Among adults 18 and over, 60.6% are fully vaccinated, and 70% have received at least one dose, fulfilling Biden’s July 4 target, albeit several weeks late.
But with cases rising in all 50 states and the bulk of them occurring in unvaccinated people, getting shots into arms has become more urgent than ever. Health experts have repeatedly warned that allowing new variants to spread could result in one emerging that is resistant to the current vaccines, sending scientists back to the drawing board. White House officials are calling on employers to require COVID-19 vaccines.
The delta variant has created crises in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, according to a New York Times tracker. It shows that the county including Jacksonville, Fla., is averaging more than 900 cases a day.
Meanwhile, a new variant of the virus that first emerged in Colombia is showing up in South Florida, according to the Washington Post. The B. 1.621 variant has not yet been assigned a Greek-letter designation but is under investigation to determine whether it causes more severe disease or is vaccine-resistant.
Media reports continue to highlight people who were wary of getting vaccinated and now regret their choice as they languish in intensive-care units. The Washington Post reported Tuesday on how one in five adults age 65 or older is not fully vaccinated, despite being in a particularly high-risk group.
The paper reported on a number of individuals who became extremely ill with the virus after leaving it too late to get their shots. One patient cited by the paper had to have a double lung transplant and another a liver transplant.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said residents will need proof of vaccination to visit restaurants, gyms and live performances, as will workers at all of those places, starting next month.
Elsewhere, Germany will start offering vaccinations tor all children and teenagers aged 12 and older, top health officials said Monday, the Associated Press reported. And, according to a Deutsche Welle report, state health ministers have unanimously backed a plan to begin administering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to elderly and at-risk citizens next month.
In China, the city of Wuhan, where the virus originated in late 2019, is planning to test all 12 million residents for the virus after recording its first locally transmitted cases of the delta variant, Reuters reported. The strain has been found in a handful of provinces and big cities including Beijing over the past two weeks after an outbreak in Nanjing in late July. Millions of Chinese people are now subject to stay-at-home orders.
In the U.K., which fully reopened its economy in July against the advice of hundreds of scientists and experts, England and Wales recorded more than 300 COVID deaths in the week through July 23, ITV.com reported — a 50% spike from the previous week. The number is also a significant leap in recent months, with the closest being 362 deaths recorded in the week to April 16.
Indonesia, which is struggling with a rocketing of cases and deaths, is also running out of healthcare workers, many of whom are succumbing to the illness, the AP reported. Among the dead in the country of some 275 million, spread over some 6,000 inhabited islands, are more than 1,200 healthcare workers, including 598 doctors, according to the Risk Mitigation Team of the Indonesian Medical Association. The doctors included at least 24 who were fully vaccinated.
The global tally for the coronavirus-borne illness headed above 199 million on Tuesday, while the death toll climbed above 4.24 million according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. leads the world with a total of 35.1 million cases and in deaths with 613,769.
India is second by cases at 31.7 million and third by deaths at 425,195 according to its official numbers, which are expected to be undercounted.
Brazil is second in deaths at 557,223, but is third in cases at 19.9 million. Mexico has the fourth highest death toll at 241,279 but has recorded just 2.9 million cases, according to its official numbers.
In Europe, Russia continues to pull ahead of the U.K. by deaths at 158,263, while the U.K. has 130,039, making Russia the country with the fifth highest death toll in the world and the highest in Europe.
China has had 105,252 confirmed cases and 4,848 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively underreported.