(Trends Wide) — The U.S. is making headway in its battle against COVID-19, as infection and hospitalization rates plummet following a surge driven by the relentless delta variant. However, the number of Americans receiving booster shots outnumbers those starting vaccination, so experts warn that more is needed to continue the progress.
Both coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are down more than 10% from last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and the US Department of Health and Human Services, respectively.
Just over 56% of the total US population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“This wave is receding, but unless we get the nearly 70 million unvaccinated Americans vaccinated, we risk future waves,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC director, told Trends Wide Wednesday.
An average of 384,963 booster doses of the vaccine are given each day, while about 281,303 people receive their first dose each day and about 292,927 people get fully vaccinated each day, according to data from the CDC on Wednesday.
In New Mexico, more people are getting vaccinated, but it’s not happening fast enough to reduce COVID-19 cases, according to Dr. David Scrase, acting director of health for the state health department.
“Our curve went up quite a bit on the delta variant, and it’s not going down,” Scrase said. “In fact, it has stalled.”
Scrase explained that he is concerned that healthcare workers are being burned out.
“In the Northwest (New Mexico region) … hospitals are very, very, very overwhelmed,” Scrase said. “I’ve talked to too many people who say that as soon as this curve goes down, they will retire from their entire healthcare career. They just can’t keep doing it.”
And now that winter is approaching, experts insist on the importance of getting vaccinated against both covid-19 and the flu, as they pose a double threat to an already overloaded healthcare system.
Vaccination mandates are no different from restrictions on tobacco use, according to a senior health official
One of the ways authorities seek to increase vaccination numbers is through mandates, but some strongly oppose governments and companies requiring inoculation.
On Wednesday, Dr. Vivek Murthy, US Chief Health Officer, compared vaccination mandates to speed limits or restrictions on smoking in public, adding that the requirement is critical to public health. .
“In the 19th century, many public schools began requiring their students to be vaccinated. During World War II, the US military required its troops to be vaccinated against a number of diseases, including typhoid, tetanus and fever. yellow, “Murthy said. “The vaccination requirements are part of our historic effort to protect public health,” he added.
Murthy’s comments came on the same day that the Los Angeles City Council voted to require patrons in enclosed spaces such as restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to show proof of complete vaccination against COVID-19 starting on 4 November. The ordinance will also apply to personal care establishments, such as spas and hair salons, as well as city buildings.
Although the measure does not take effect until next month, companies must post a notice of obligation before October 21. People with medical or religious exemptions must submit a form stating it. People who do not meet these requirements will be able to use the exterior spaces of a business and will be allowed to enter the covered spaces to use the restrooms or pick up take-out orders.
As for businesses, American Airlines is requiring its employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 24 or they risk losing their jobs.
“To be clear, if they do not meet the requirement, the result will be the firing of the company,” read an update from the airline obtained by Trends Wide.
On Monday, Southwest Airlines said it would comply with the federal vaccination mandate, making Delta the last of the “big four” airlines to fail to implement a mandate.
United Airlines issued its own vaccination mandate for employees, which took effect last week.
Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Immunity Decreases, Studies Find
The immune protection offered by two doses of Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine diminishes after about two months, although the protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death remains strong, according to two real-world studies published Wednesday.
The studies, conducted in Israel and Qatar and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, support the arguments that even fully vaccinated people should maintain precautions against infection.
A study from Israel showed that antibody levels drop rapidly after two doses of the vaccine “especially among men, among those 65 and older, and among those with immunosuppression.”
The study also indicated that the immunity of people who are vaccinated after a natural COVID-19 infection lasts longer. It is especially strong for people who recovered from the infection and then got vaccinated, according to the study.
A second study in Qatar looked at actual infections among the highly vaccinated population of that small Gulf nation. Most of the people there were vaccinated with the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
The study found that Pfizer’s vaccine-induced protection “increases rapidly after the first dose, peaks in the first month after the second dose, and then gradually decreases in the following months,” the research team wrote. “The decline appears to accelerate after the fourth month, to reach a low level of about 20% in the following months,” they added.
However, protection against hospitalization and death remained above 90%, the researchers said.
The FDA has authorized a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine in people 65 and older, in people at high risk for the disease, and in people whose jobs put them at risk of infection.
The pill, complement
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, continued to champion the importance of vaccination Wednesday, warning those who hope that a promising but unapproved antiviral pill will eliminate the need for inoculation.
The drug, called molnupiravir, has been developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The companies said last week that the pill could potentially cut the risk of death from COVID-19 in half, but Fauci said it needs more scrutiny before authorization can be considered.
“It is very important that this now goes through the usual process of close scrutiny of the data by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), both in terms of efficacy and safety, because whenever a new compound is introduced, safety is very important, “said Fauci.
He also noted that it is more important to prevent the disease than to treat it. “Vaccines are still our best tools against COVID-19, because prevention is much, much better than having to treat an infection.”
Trends Wide’s Virginia Langmaid, Maggie Fox, Andy Rose, and Pete Muntean contributed to this report.