The president of the United States, Joe Biden , made a simple calculation in May: he counted the number of vaccines in his country and the number of arms of Americans to inject and concluded that 70% of the adult population would have at least One dose and you could celebrate the patriotic Independence Day holiday on July 4 without worrying about the pandemic .
But the latest data shows that less than 60% of the elderly are fully vaccinated and less than 67% have received at least one dose. Given these figures, the White House covid-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients , warned that they will need “a few more weeks” to cross the goal set by the president.
“It was a very achievable goal. The US has enough vaccines to meet it,” says Spencer Fox, a researcher at the University of Texas. In his opinion, among the reasons that have prevented compliance with the commitment so far are the difficulties that many people have in accessing the vaccine, especially those from vulnerable sectors who cannot take a day off to receive the doses or do not have access to a means of transportation to get to a vaccination center or a pharmacy.
The low fear of the virus, the possible side effects of vaccines, the lack of trust in drugs or the government and the belief in conspiracy theories – ranging from vaccines being made with fetuses to injecting a chip along with the doses- are other reasons why the country’s vaccination curve is decreasing after having reached its maximum on April 10 with more than 4.5 million drugs injected in one day.
“Get vaccinated and go to a pool party,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci , the White House’s leading infectious disease expert, to more than two million followers of ‘influencer’ Claudia Sulewski in an Instagram video. In that interview, he denies claims such as that one of the side effects of the vaccine is that it causes infertility or that it causes genetic mutations . It is no coincidence that now the leading US epidemiologist is allowing this 25-year-old ‘youtuber’ to interview, nor that the Administration has partnered with Twitch and Riot Games to reach online players, and with Panera and Chipotle to offer food free to those who join.
” Younger people are more hesitant because they are not so concerned about having severe covid symptoms, which is one of the biggest incentives to get vaccinated. Also, young people can only get vaccinated recently. Maybe they are waiting to see if their friends they get vaccinated and check if there are any kind of side effects at those ages “, Fox emphasizes.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that just over 30% of the population between 12 and 17 years old have been vaccinated and that less than 50% of young people between 18 and 39 years have received the doses, in contrast to more than 80% of those over 65 and almost 70% of people between 50 and 65 years.
Fox explains that although herd immunity is linked to reaching 70% of the vaccinated population, this cannot be applied to age groups since in the United States the different generations are interconnected.
Opening of schools
Fox points out that it is most likely that the country will reach 70% this year and stresses that not only herd immunity is achieved with the vaccine but also with those people who have already passed the disease.
The downside of not achieving this immunity is the creation of ” holes ” in society through which the virus “finds its way” to spread . According to the expert, these outbreaks can occur both in the most vulnerable areas of society and due to the spread of the virus through children under 12 years of age, who still cannot be vaccinated in this country.
Despite the fact that some specialists are beginning to consider what the total reopening of schools will be like after the summer holidays due to the appearance of the new delta variant , Fox sees it unlikely that the country will have as many infections as last winter. “There may be a high rebound, but the vast majority of people at higher risk of hospitalization or mortality will already be fully vaccinated. So I think if there was a surge, it would be very different from what we have seen in the past.”