As COVID Vaccination Numbers Rise, U.S. Sees Uptick in New Cases and Spread of Variants

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Currents News Staff

Soon, all 50 U.S. states will have expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years and older.

It’s happening as COVID-19 variants continue to spread and new variants keep popping up.

Now there’s a race between vaccinations and variants.

From production, to packaging, to planes, to the pavement and to the people, vaccine rollout is going strong. 

But Dr. Ashish Jha, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, and Dr. Paul Offit, worry it’s creating false hope.

Average new case counts are up more than 16% over the past two weeks, and the Centers for Disease Control and prevention says part of the reason for the rise is because of variants like the one first spotted in the U.K.

“It’s not long before it is going to sweep across the country,” said Osterholm.

“And the variants make it particularly concerning,” added Dr. Jha. 

There are still so many questions about the variants.

“To date we don’t know that the variants have completely escaped immunity, where for example, if you’ve been naturally infected or immunized you still may be hospitalized or in a ICU or die,” explained Dr. Offit, a member of the FDA Vaccines Advisory Committee:

There are also other variants popping up like the one first identified in India that’s also been reported in California, not to mention the variants still to come as viruses mutate over time.

“Where will these new variants come from that we couldn’t even imagine today,” asked Osterholm.

Still,  all three experts agree that vaccinations are our best bet.

“We either get vaccinated, or if we haven’t had a chance to get a vaccine yet, at least wear a mask and social distance,” said Dr. Offit. 

“We really do have to hunker down for a few more weeks,” urged Dr. Jha.