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High rates of COVID infection right now could mean problems for vaccines later, ex-CDC chief says

Posted at 2:11 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 17:17:33-04

(WXYZ) — The seven-day average for coronavirus case numbers across the US have been hovering around 54,000 a day. Health experts say this infection rate is still too high and it’s critical to get the numbers lower.

Experts are concerned that our high infection rates could lead to problems down the road for vaccines. While more people are getting vaccinated, overall, it’s a small percentage. So far, only 13.7% of Americans are fully vaccinated – that’s about 45.5 million. And roughly 83.9 million have received one dose. And while that’s a great start, it’s peanuts when you compare those numbers to the total population of the US – which is just over 328 million residents.

We have the B.1.1.7 variant that was first found in Britain spreading like wildfire. The fact that it’s more contagious means it could all to easily lead to another surge in infections. We’ve seen that happen in Europe. And if it can happen there, it can also happen here too. Now the concern is that uncontrolled spread can lead to more illnesses, more hospitalizations and possibly higher death rates. So, how does high infection rates impact our vaccines? Well, if the virus is allowed to spread, it opens the door for new variants. Remember viruses naturally mutate. Some of the changes are meaningless and don’t affect how the virus acts. While other changes could potentially make the virus more dangerous. And there’s the possibility that new variants could also outsmart our vaccines, making them less effective.

Health officials have been warning Americans not to travel and to avoid large crowds. Because those two together can lead to surges a few weeks later. And unfortunately, there are too many people who aren’t listening. Across the US, more than 1.5 million people have been screened at airports according to the Transportation Security Administration. That’s a pandemic-era record. And the state of Florida has seen a rise in visitors who are on spring break. In fact, there are so many people gathering together in large crowds that the major had to set a curfew and declare a state of emergency. So it’s important that we all continue to be vigilant with pandemic precautions. Just because restrictions are being eased doesn’t mean you have to go hog-wild and do whatever you want. The case numbers in Michigan are still rapidly climbing. Let’s turn them around by avoiding crowds, limiting travel, wearing face masks, and not hanging out indoors with folks that are not from your household. And please, it’s also important to get vaccinated when you can.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

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