Virtually all COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. are occurring among unvaccinated people, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said Thursday, warning that there would likely continue to be increases in cases in areas with low vaccination rates as the Delta variant spreads.
As of this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that the Delta variant is the dominant COVID-19 strain in the U.S., with the agency’s director noting its rapid spread and an increase in the national average of 7-day case count. This week, the U.S. saw an 11% increase compared to the prior 7-day average in new cases, and about a 7% increase in hospitalizations.
She noted particular concern for areas of the country where the Delta variant accounts for close to 80% of cases, such as in parts of the Midwest and upper mountain region.
“Although we expected the Delta variant to become the dominant strain in the U.S., this rapid rise is troubling,” she said. “We know that the Delta variant has increased transmissibility and it is currently surging in pockets of the country with low vaccination rates. We also know that our authorized vaccines prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death from the Delta variant and these results have been overserved not just here in the U.S., but in other countries as well.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was also on the call, cited several “real-world” studies conducted outside of the U.S. that pointed to a high efficacy in the mRNA vaccines, and additional data regarding the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 jab.
“The only conclusion one can reasonably come to from looking at what I’ve told you over the last few minutes, is please get vaccinated,” he said. “It will protect you against the surging of the Delta variant.”