Americans who live in areas with particularly low COVID-19 vaccination rates have a “good reason” to wear face masks even if they are vaccinated, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser.

“You might want to go the extra step and say, ‘When I’m in that area where there’s a considerable degree of viral circulation, I might want to go the extra mile,’” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

More than 99% of new cases are now among the unvaccinated, Fauci previously said.

As of Tuesday, nearly 55% of the U.S. population had received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 47.4% had received two doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But some regions have low vaccination rates: Only 35% of people in Arkansas are fully vaccinated, and the state is averaging 16 daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.


‘You might want to go the extra step and say, “When I’m in that area where there’s a considerable degree of viral circulation, I might want to go the extra mile.”‘

— Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus increased by nearly 27% over the July 4 weekend in one region of Missouri where COVID-19 immunization rates are below 30%, the Associated Press reported. In fact, the spike in cases led to a temporary shortage in ventilators there.

“After what we’ve seen in the last month everyone is just holding their breath, especially after a holiday weekend like this, knowing that there were large gatherings,” Erik Frederick, the chief administrative officer of Mercy Springfield hospital, told the Associated Press.

The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson unit 
JNJ,
-0.90%

Janssen is an adenovirus vector-based vaccine that only requires one shot. Clinical trials showed it had 72% efficacy in the U.S. In another large study, the J&J vaccine was shown to be 66% effective overall against moderate to severe disease and 85% effective against severe disease.

The two-shot mRNA-based vaccines made by Pfizer 
PFE,
-1.56%

with German partner BioNTech SE
BNTX,
-5.06%
,
and Moderna
MRNA,
-1.54%

make up the majority of shots administered in the U.S., with clinical data pointing to efficacy rates in the mid-90% range. Mayo Clinic research puts their “real world” effectiveness at closer to 88.7%.

Recent research from the U.K. concluded that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalizations caused by the delta variant. Moderna Inc. has said its shot provides neutralizing antibody titers against delta, based on a study examining the sera from eight people in the Phase 1 clinical trial. 

Related: Global cases of COVID-19 top 184 million and Russia, Indonesia suffer record one-day death tolls

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