Nearly three years into the pandemic, there have been nearly 100 million COVID-19 cases reported in America, the Times Covid-19 tracker shows, while more than 1 million people have died as a result of the virus. These are the official numbers, but the results of a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization show that the actual number of people who have been exposed to the virus is much higher than the official numbers.
The COVID-19 vaccines helped a lot in combating the pandemic. Although none of the available vaccines on the market provided full protection against getting infected with the virus, those vaccinated were significantly protected against developing severe symptoms, which further prevented hospitalization or death. Vaccine immunity fades over time, and booster shots are required to maintain a good immune response in the event of virus exposure.
However, millions of people nationwide remained vaccine-hesitant and still haven’t gotten the vaccine. In September of last year, President Joe Biden said “this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated”, referring to the millions of Americans who decided to remain unvaccinated despite the fact that the vaccine was offered free of charge at nearly 80,000 vaccine locations across the nation. From today’s perspective, Biden was wrong.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the majority of people dying from COVID-19 in America have been vaccinated, although the country has one of the best vaccination rates so far globally. According to CDC data, nearly 69% of the population (more than 228 million people) have completed the primary vaccine series, which makes health experts believe that another COVID-19 wave this winter is unlikely.
As new variants and subvariants of the virus emerged over time, the number of vaccinated people has been steadily growing, which is leading to herd immunity. But the percentage of deaths in vaccinated people has been growing at the same pace. That said, 23% of coronavirus deaths were among vaccinated people in September 2021, and the vaccinated made up 42% of deaths in January and February of this year. In August, people who had been vaccinated or boosted made up 58% of COVID-19 deaths.
“We can no longer say this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Cynthia Cox, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Health 202, as reported by the Washington Post. Americans should follow the recommendations and get booster doses per their vaccine schedules because the vaccine immunity wanes over time. But another set of data shows that the interest in booster doses has declined in recent months as the country reopened.
Knowing that everyone will be spending more time indoors during the holiday period, interest in boosters has increased lately, but still, only 12% of the U.S. population age 5 and older have gotten the most recent booster vaccine recently. In general, only a third of the population is boosted with at least one booster dose.
The White House and health officials advise people to follow the vaccine guidelines and get all the boosters per their vaccine schedule. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is leaving the Chief Medical Advisor to the President of United States role soon, reminded Americans during the weekend that the pandemic is not over yet. Last week, White House coronavirus czar Ashish Jha said that we can have a very safe and healthy holiday season if more people get boosted.