In anticipation of an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, states and cities across the United States have enjoyed reopening once-shuttered communities for business, leisure, summer festivities and travel as life has returned to near-normal.
However, health officials remain on high alert given one ongoing obstacle to being finished with Covid-19: wide swaths of unvaccinated people in America that could allow the virus to further mutate and potentially spawn more transmissible and increasingly deadly variants.
That means that unvaccinated people are not only at greater risk of Covid-19 themselves, but could also potentially undermine America’s whole vaccine rollout if any future variant emerging in the US was significantly resistant to the shots.
“Unvaccinated people are basically the cannon fodder of the virus. The virus needs people to infect in order to replicate and the more people it has that are vulnerable or susceptible to infection, the more likely it will mutate,” said Dr Michael Saag, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Forty-six US states recorded at least a 10% increase in new coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, reported by CNN. Travel advisories have been declared for several states including Nevada and Florida because of increased Covid-19 cases, warning wannabe vacationers to stay away.
Against the backdrop of an almost nationwide increase in Covid-19 cases, there is a renewed focus on the vaccine rollout. After just missing a 4 July deadline of getting at least 70% of American adults their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the Biden administration – together with federal, state and local health officials – is encouraging people, especially younger adults, to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
But, even amid the more aggressive attempts to boost vaccination rates, several states, many concentrated in the south, continue to lag behind. As of 5 July, Arkansas, which has fully vaccinated less than 35% of its adult population, has acquired new Covid-19 cases at five times the national average rate. Similarly, Oklahoma, where only 39% of adults are fully vaccinated, has had a similar increase in Covid-19 cases. Those who remain unvaccinated risk infection as well as an increased chance of hospitalization or death from Covid.
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