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The Guardian

Covid Summer: Fauci warns US not to ‘declare victory’ despite lowest rates in a year

“ We don’t want to declare victory prematurely, ” an expert told The Guardian as 2021 saw more global cases than the whole of 2020 “ More and more people will be able to get vaccinated, as community, the community will be safer and more secure, says Fauci. Photograph: Rex / Shutterstock Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease specialist in the United States, warned it was too early to declare victory against Covid-19 as cases plummeted across the country at the highest rates low since last June. “We don’t want to declare victory prematurely because we still have a way to go,” Fauci told The Guardian in an interview. “But more people will be able to get vaccinated, as a community the community will be safer and more secure.” Memorial Holiday weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in the United States, and for at least 50% of the fully vaccinated adult population, it could usher in a season of maskless barbecues and beach trips. Daily coronavirus cases have fallen 53% since May 1, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, but rates are still high in the unvaccinated population and cases are increasing globally. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have already been more cases worldwide in 2021 than in 2020. “As long as there is a certain level of activity in the world, there is always a risk that variants appear and somewhat reduce the effectiveness of our vaccines, ”said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Niaid). The United States has been under pressure to provide more aid to global immunization efforts and has pledged in recent weeks to donate 80 million vaccines in addition to the $ 4 billion donation it pledged to Covax, the United States. global vaccine sharing program. Fauci said more help may be on the way. “We are currently discussing at different levels how we might be able to increase production to get vaccine doses from the companies that already make them for us, get more doses that can be distributed to low and middle income. country, ”Fauci said. Commuters receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Coney Island subway station in Brooklyn. Photograph: Brendan McDermid / Reuters At the same time, the United States must tackle the problems that prevent its people from getting vaccinated. Part of this group is strongly opposed to the vaccine, but there is also a part of the unvaccinated population who could not get vaccinated due to lack of access to information or transportation or concerns about being absent from work because paid sick leave is not guaranteed in the United States. Fauci said it was also something the United States was focusing its efforts on as Joe Biden’s administration sought to get a first dose of the vaccine to 70% of the adult American population by July 4. This month, the White House deployed more immunization resources to underserved areas and mobile clinics and supported an effort by rideshare companies to offer free trips to people who get vaccinated. In April, Biden called on all employers to give employees paid time off to get vaccinated and gave a small and medium-sized business tax credit to offer paid time off for employees to get vaccinated. and recover from any side effects they might experience afterwards. “Today, these days, the accessibility and convenience of getting a vaccine is really quite striking,” Fauci said. But until the overwhelming majority of Americans have been vaccinated, the risk of Covid-19 is still high in the United States. As of Friday, 59.1% of Americans 12 and older had received their first dose of the vaccine and 47.4% were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “We cannot abandon public health measures while you still have some degree of viral activity in the larger community in the United States,” Fauci said. “Although we have fallen to less than 30,000 infections per day, that still represents a lot of infections per day.” The national death rate among the unvaccinated population is about the same as it was at the end of March, according to an analysis of Washington Post data released this month. The adjusted hospitalization rate is as high as it was at the end of February, although cases are on the decline, according to the analysis. Tara Kirk Sell, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said that in the coming months, the coronavirus could spread out of control among unvaccinated people. “Unfortunately, those groups of people who are anti-vax or who will end up being susceptible to the disease are going to end up in pockets,” Sell said. “It will not be distributed evenly across the population.” Earlier this month, the CDC released an optimistic report that, at best, Covid-19 infections could be reduced to low levels by July if the vast majority of people get vaccinated and were taking other precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing. The CDC report was not a forecast, but a set of scenarios created by six independent research teams using data up to March 27. The modeling does not include what might happen if there was a new, more dangerous variant. Sell ​​expects things to improve this summer, but warned that fall is still an unknown. “I think we should be humble about our certainty as to how things are going to play out,” Sell said. “There were a lot of curves.” Sandra Lindsay, left, receives the Covid vaccine from Dr Michelle Chester, right, in Queens, New York, in December. Photograph: Mark Lennihan / AP In the meantime, clinicians like Dr Michelle Chester, who administered the first Covid-19 vaccine in the United States outside of a clinical trial, are pushing for as many people as possible to be vaccinated. “I’m happy with the numbers, but we need to do more because there are still a large number of people still unvaccinated,” said Chester, director of employee health services for Northwell Health, the health system that treated more hospital patients. Covid-19 patients than anywhere in the United States. Northwell Health has vaccination sites for people 12 years of age and older in the greater New York City area. Some are open 24 hours a day so people with difficult work schedules can find time to get vaccinated. “The more we can get people vaccinated, the less we have to worry about the virus in the sense that it affects people who may not be able to get vaccinated for medical reasons,” Chester said. “We protect them.” Chester said there was still “a long way to go,” but she expects her family to, at least, have a more normal summer than last year. “My husband is vaccinated, my daughter was eager to get the vaccine,” Chester said. “I feel very comfortable having my family protected and I want the same level of comfort as everyone else because I just want to get back to normal.”

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