Covid Variants Threaten to Prolong the Pandemic If We Don’t All Vaccinate

Have you gotten your Covid-19 vaccine yet?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Thursday, one third of the United States population has received at least one dose.

When President Joe Biden took office, he promised he would ensure 100 million vaccinations within his first 100 days.

We surpassed those 100 million shots in only 58 days, encouraging Biden to double his projection.

In February, Biden promised every American would be eligible for the vaccine by July.

Now it’s April 19–next Monday.

With a seven-day average of three million vaccine doses per day, we have vaccinated 20 percent of the U.S. population.

This time last year we were counting the mounting dead.

But before we tear off our masks and resume our lives at 2019 levels, there is something that ought to concern everyone, vaccinated or not.

Despite our impressive progress, 80 percent of the country is still unvaccinated, and experts warn the “vaccine craze” might be waning.

This makes us susceptible to virus variants more contagious and dangerous than the one we are close to overcoming.

Michigan, for instance, is experiencing a surge of the British variant, B-117, with an approximately 64% higher lethality rate.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky explained last week:

“Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States.”

She added at a briefing Monday:

“When you have an acute situation, an extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give vaccines—in fact, we know the vaccine will have a delayed response.

“The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer…to flatten the curve, to decrease contact with one another, to test to the extent that we have available, to contact trace.”

She added hospitals are admitting patients in their 30s and 40s.

University of Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said that while he previously supported children returning to school due to the reduced probability of their contracting or spreading Covid-19, he is now changing his stance, stating.

“Please understand, this B.1.1.7 variant is a brand new ball game. It infects kids very readily. Unlike previous strains of the virus, we didn’t see children under 8th grade get infected often or they were not frequently very ill, they didn’t transmit to the rest of the community.”

Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on CBS‘s “Face the Nation”:

“What we’re seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven’t been vaccinated, and also in school-aged children.”

Moreover, recent research confirms current vaccines aren’t as effective against the South African variant, B.1.351.

According to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci–by now a household name–even vaccinated persons are susceptible to contracting Covid.

He explained:

“We see this with all vaccines, in clinical trials and in the real world. No vaccine is 100 percent efficacious or effective, which means that we will always see breakthrough infections, regardless of the efficacy of the vaccine.”

It shouldn’t come as any surprise the states slowest to vaccinate are those with republican-majority governments.

Current polling shows white republicans are the most reluctant to receive vaccines.

No wonder after pledging fealty to a president who told them the virus would “disappear” and did nothing, whose genocidal mendacity continues to poison the right-wing media mediasphere.

Bottom line: get vaccinated.

Even though nothing is perfect, we are never going to achieve herd immunity unless the infection rates drop, and right now the best way to accomplish that is through vaccinations, social distancing, and continuing wearing facemasks.

Covid-19 is probably going to become endemic, meaning it will always be with us, like influenza.

Like with the flu, we will likely have to get periodic vaccinations to shield us from the countless mutations.

If we don’t heed public health precautions now, the future is going to be more bleak and unpredictable.

Do we really want another year like we just had?

Image credit: Wikipedia

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.