‘Two Americas’ May Emerge as Delta Variant Spreads and Immunization Rates Decline

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With Covid vaccination penetration in the United States likely to be below Joe Biden’s 70% target by July 4, pandemic analysts warn vaccine incentives are losing ground and “two Americas ”could emerge as the aggressive Delta variant becomes the dominant American strain.

Efforts to increase immunization rates have manifested themselves in a variety of incentives, ranging from free burgers to free beer, college scholarships and even million dollar lottery prizes. But efforts to get people to be shot have lost their initial impact, or failed to land at all.

“It just doesn’t work,” Irwin Redlener of Columbia University’s Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative told Politico. “People don’t buy it. The incentives don’t seem to work, whether it’s a donut, a car, or a million dollars.

In Ohio, a program giving five adults the chance to win $ 1 million increased vaccination rates by 40% for more than a week. A month later, the rate had fallen below what it was before the incentive was introduced, Politico found.

Oregon followed Ohio’s lead in cash prizes, but saw a less dramatic rise. Preliminary data from a similar lottery in North Carolina, launched last week, suggests that the incentive is also not increasing vaccination rates there.

Public officials are sounding the alarm that the window between improved vaccination penetration and the threat of the more severe Delta variant, which accounts for about 10% of cases in the United States, is starting to close. The Delta variant appears to be much more contagious than the original strain of Covid-19 and has wreaked havoc in countries like India and the UK.

“I certainly don’t see things getting better if we don’t increase our immunization rates,” Scott Allen of the Webster County, Missouri, Health Department told Politico. The state has seen daily infections and hospitalizations almost double in the past two weeks.

Overall, new cases of Covid in the United States have peaked at a daily average of around 15,000 after dropping as the country’s vaccination program ramped up. But the number of first-dose vaccinations fell to 360,000 from 2 million in mid-April. A quarter of them are young people aged 12 to 15 who are newly eligible.

Separately, pandemic researchers warn that a picture of “two Americas” is emerging – the vaccinated and the unvaccinated – which, in many ways, could reflect the political divisions of the Red and Blue states.

According to a CBS News / YouGov poll, only 52% of Republicans said they were partially or fully vaccinated, and 29% said they had no intention of getting the vaccine. 77% of Democrats said they were already vaccinated, with just 5% of respondents resisting the vaccine.

“I call it two Covid Nations,” Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told BuzzFeed News.

Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said she expected the Delta variant to become the most common variant in the United States within weeks. “It’s going really fast,” Korber told Buzzfeed.

President Biden on Friday urged Americans who have yet to receive a vaccine to do so as soon as possible.

“Even though we are making incredible progress, it remains a serious and deadly threat,” Biden said in White House remarks, saying the Delta variant leaves people unvaccinated “even more vulnerable than they were. a month ago “.

“We’re heading towards, God willing, the summer of joy, the summer of freedom,” Biden said. “On July 4th, we will celebrate our independence from the virus as we celebrate our independence from our nation. We want everyone to be able to do it. “

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