Scientists have warned that the July 4 celebrations in the United States are likely to accelerate the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant, particularly in parts of the country where vaccination rates are delayed.
The United States is preparing for an Independence Day celebratory weekend full of parades, concerts and fireworks, unlike last year, when several major events were canceled due to concern about the virus. .
Despite progress in the fight against the pandemic, experts say massive national trips and large meetings can increase the spread of the Delta variant, particularly between people not vaccinated, raising the prospect of localized rises in homes and hospitalizations.
“Take a hypertransmitable variant of Delta and large meetings, with the emotional mindset in America that the pandemic is over… And you can absolutely depend on a growth of cases,” said Gregory Poland, director of the vaccine research group. at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
Joe Biden has however made progress with plans to host a July 4 party for more than 1,000 people on the South White House lawn. The president of the United States is also scheduled to visit Michigan on July 3 in a tour titled “America’s Back Together” to announce progress against the disease and promote vaccines.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Biden said he was not worried that there would be a big fire but encouraged people to get vaccinated. Her administration has already admitted it will not meet its goal of getting at least a shot at 70 per cent of adults by the July 4 party.
“I am concerned that people who have not been vaccinated have the ability to catch the variant and spread the variant to other people who have not been vaccinated,” he said, adding, “The Fourth of July this year is different … than the Fourth of July last year, and it will be better next year. “
While the number of cases has fallen sharply since the peak of the pandemic earlier this year, there are concerns that the spread of the Delta variant could complicate this progress. In some states where Delta is most prevalent, cases are growing again.
The variant now accounts for the majority of genetically sequenced cases in the United States, according to a Financial Times analysis of the latest sequencing data submitted to the global Gisaid repository.
About three out of five national cases are now estimated by the highly transmissible variant previously detected in India, and the prevalence is as high as 90 per cent in some states.
These figures are aligned with the estimate of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 26 percent prevalence at the national level, but are calculated using more up-to-date figures that point to the continued growth of the strain.
Although Delta is about 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, according to UK government research, the three Covid-19 vaccines authorized in the United States have been shown to be effective in preventing serious disease. Nearly 156 million people in the United States are completely vaccinated, according to CDC figures.
Research by the UK government has shown that two doses of the BioNTech / Pfizer jab are 88 per cent effective against symptomatic Delta diseases, while preliminary data from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson show that their jabs elicit antibodies. against the variant.
But U.S. officials are particularly concerned about the spread of Delta in parts of the country with low vaccination rates. About 1,000 U.S. counties have vaccination rates below 30 percent, according to Rochelle Walensky, CDC director.
“As the Delta variant continues to spread across the country, we expect to see increased transmission in these communities, unless we can vaccinate more people,” he said Thursday.
After a blistering start, the launch of U.S. vaccines has slowed, and states have tried to attract vaccinators. offers rewards which ranges from free food and drinks to the chance to earn millions of dollars.
In a sign of concern, the White House said it will deploy emergency response teams to help community leaders with skills including testing and tracking contacts.
The danger posed by Delta is apparent in Missouri, where the strain contains 90 percent of new cases, according to FT analysis. Hospitals growing in the southwest of the state have forced some hospitals to transfer patients to other facilities.
“Missouri is about the epicenter of the Delta variant in the United States at the moment,” said Alexander Garza, incident commander of the pandemic workforce for the St. Louis region.
He said 37 percent of those admitted to hospital in the area are under the age of 45. The large meetings scheduled for this weekend provide the “optimal environment” for the spread of the virus, especially in people who are not vaccinated, he added.
In Missouri, 56 percent of people received a dose of the vaccine, compared to more than 70 percent in New York.
Despite the availability of vaccines and the move by several state and local authorities to ease restrictions, some U.S. health officials are encouraging people to continue to act with caution in light of Delta’s increased transmissibility.
Officials in St. Louis and Los Angeles County this week strongly advise that people wear masks at home, regardless of their vaccination status, in contrast to the CDC. mask guide facilitated.
Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in LA County, said that while vaccines are effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths from Delta, wearing masks at home reduces transmission.
Amesh Adalja, a senior researcher on infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Center at the University for Health Security, said the unvaccinated states will have to bear the brunt of the increased hospitalizations that will arise from the weekend of July 4. ” The Delta variant will not be a systemic risk but a regional risk, ”he added.
More information from Lauren Fedor in Washington