US coronavirus: Spread of the Delta variant could make it even harder to achieve herd immunity, says expert

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“We don’t know exactly what the herd immunity rate would be for Covid-19. It would be different for the Delta variant, and higher, because it’s more transmissible,” said Dr. Rachel Levine to CNN’s Ana Cabrera Friday.

“But we know… that people who have been vaccinated are protected against this Delta variant. And it’s extremely unlikely that they will get sick and it’s virtually impossible for them to require hospitalization,” said Levine, the assistant secretary of The United States. Department of Health and Human Services.

Estimates vary as to how much of the population must have immunity to achieve that goal. dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said herd immunity can be achieved if 70-85% of people are immune.

Variant accounts for a higher percentage of cases in some states

The Delta variant, which was first seen in India, can infect people more easily and cause even more serious diseases.

In California, where about half of the state’s 40 million residents are vaccinated, Covid-19 cases are on the rise, with the Delta variant accounting for 36% of all new cases, officials say.

“The most important thing we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its variants is to ensure that everyone who is eligible is vaccinated,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, California’s public health officer.

On Monday, Los Angeles County advised people to wear masks in indoor public areas, even if they are vaccinated, and on Friday, the city and county of St. Louis, Missouri, did the same. Both jurisdictions made the recommendations due to the distribution of the variant.

“As we keep an eye on the Delta variant, we see that it is spreading rapidly, and data shows that it is more contagious and affects younger segments of the population,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of the City of St. Louis division. Health, in a press release.

CNN analyst dr. Leana Wen told CNN Friday that the states with the lowest vaccination coverage are seeing an even higher percentage of the Delta variant in new cases.

“In the five states with the highest spread of Covid-19, the Delta variant is there in more than 50% of cases. Arkansas is 50%. Utah 60%. Missouri is 70%.” said Wen. “I think we also have to take into account the statistics of who gets sick. In general, they are unvaccinated people.”

People cross Las Vegas Boulevard on July 2, 2021. Tourists are pouring into the city again, and gambling revenues have hit an all-time high.  But that progress is under threat: Nevada saw the highest number of new Covid-19 cases in the country this week.

Where US States Rank in Vaccinations

By Friday, 47.1% of the total U.S. population had been fully vaccinated and 54.7% had received one injection, according to federal data. In the past week, an average of 662,906 people were fully vaccinated daily.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 18 states that have fully vaccinated more than half of their population. These are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C.

It's okay to celebrate the fourth with precautions despite the pandemic, Faucici . says

Experts agree that vaccination is the best protection against the Delta variant.

Two weeks after the second dose, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 88% effective against symptomatic infections caused by the Delta variant Fauci said. Those who received only one dose have less protection.

Moderna’s vaccine was found in lab experiments to work against new variants, including the Delta strain, the company said this week. Serum samples from people who received two shots of the Moderna vaccine showed neutralizing activity against the variants, Moderna said in a pre-print study that has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Johnson & Johnson said its one-time coronavirus vaccine provides immunity that lasts for at least eight months, and it appears to provide protection against the Delta variant.

Travel guidance from the WHO

Fauci offered a glimmer of good news ahead of the July 4 holiday: Americans can celebrate with the right precautions, he said.

“That is, if you are vaccinated, you have a high level of protection. If you are not, you have to wear a mask and you have to think very seriously about getting vaccinated,” he said.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. However, Vivek Murthy said he was most concerned about people not being vaccinated heading into the holiday weekend.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated and if you… going to travel and see others from different households, gather inside, and if you’re not masked, there’s a significant risk that the virus will continue to spread,” he told CNN on Friday.
July 4 travel will be back with vengeance as Americans 'go back to life'

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s new interim international travel guideline released Friday takes into account vaccination status, as well as variants of concern and interesting variants.

The organization recommends taking a “risk-based approach” when implementing Covid-19 measures.

“This approach should consider the risk of travel for the import and export of cases in the context of evolving epidemiology, including the emergence and spread of virus variants of concern; the expansion of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination; and lessons learned while responding to the pandemic, including on early case detection and management and the application of public health and social measures,” the WHO said in a statement.

The WHO also pointed out that proof of vaccination should not be required as a condition of entering or leaving a country and that national authorities could consider an individualized approach when conducting testing or quarantine as a precondition for entry if people have immunity to vaccination or a previously confirmed infection.

Cheri Mossburg, Carma Hassan, Deidre McPhillips, Maggie Fox and Naomi Thomas of CNN contributed to this report.

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