(CNN) — About 70% to 85% of the US population should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the country can begin to return to normal, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Tuesday night. .
So far, less than 2% of Americans have received both doses of the covid-19 vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the US, more than 32.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, and about 26.4 million people have received at least one dose. About six million people have received both doses, CDC data shows.
Fauci said he is hopeful the country can reach that high level of vaccination by late summer and early fall.
“Having said that,” he added, “there is an absolute ‘but’ in that. And the ‘but’ is that we have to address the variants.
Experts have sounded the alarm about the new covid-19 variants that have been detected in the US, warning that the country is now in a race against time to vaccinate as many people as possible before they are released. variants become too widespread and possibly trigger another wave of infections
Infectious disease expert Dr Michael Osterholm said earlier this week that an increase driven by the variant first detected in the UK, strain B.1,1.7, is likely to occur ‘in the next six to 14 weeks ».
And there are also concerns about what the variants will mean for the efficacy of the vaccine. Studies have suggested that a South African variant could pose a problem for vaccines, while a new report this week said a mutation that could affect vaccines was also detected in samples of the B.1,1.7 strain.
The best Americans can do now, Fauci said, is to stop the virus from spreading further and mutating.
“The only way a virus mutates (is) if it can replicate. So if people are vaccinated, public health measures are duplicated and the level of viral dynamics is kept low, we will not have an easy evolution towards mutations, “he said. “That is something that people really need to understand.”
“The way to stop these mutations: get vaccinated and comply with public health measures,” added Fauci.
Study: Younger Adults Are the Biggest Transmitters of the Virus in America
His comments came after a group of researchers reported Tuesday that the biggest transmitters of COVID-19 in the U.S. are adults ages 20 to 49, and efforts to control the spread, including vaccines, should probably focus. in that age group.
The team of researchers from Imperial College London used cell phone location data covering more than 10 million people and publicly available information on the spread of the virus to calculate which age groups were most responsible.
They estimated that people ages 35 to 49 accounted for 41% of new broadcasts through mid-August, and adults ages 20 to 34 were responsible for another 35%. Children and adolescents accounted for only 6% of the spread, while people aged 50-64 years accounted for 15% of the transmission.
Experts previously warned that the surges were largely driven by younger groups, Fauci said, but that doesn’t mean those groups should get vaccinated “at the expense of older people with the underlying conditions getting vaccinated.”
“You don’t want to deprive them to give priority to the youngest, because they are the ones who will end up in the hospital and have a higher mortality rate,” Fauci said.
More than 446,000 Americans have already lost their lives to the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and more than 100,000 have died this year alone.
States will see an increase in vaccine supply
Hoping to curb the pandemic as soon as possible, states have been pushing for more supply and increasing their capacities to deliver more vaccines faster.
“Our challenge is supply, supply, supply,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said in a statement Tuesday. “Remember, we’re going to give everyone a vaccine, it’s just going to take a while.”
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was increasing the weekly allocation of vaccines to states, tribes and territories by an additional 5%.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the increase will allow the state to supply roughly 20% more vaccine doses to local governments in the coming weeks, meaning they could choose to expand the guidelines on who is eligible for a vaccine.
“We have state priorities set by the federal government, but if a local government now receives more (dose) and believes, in their local circumstances that they should prioritize taxi drivers, Uber drivers, because they believe that has been a problem , or developing facilities for the mentally handicapped or restaurant workers, they have that flexibility, “Cuomo said at a news conference Tuesday.
The state had to close and postpone many vaccination appointments following a major winter storm that hit the region this week.
New York City officials said Tuesday that people whose appointments were canceled due to the weather will be contacted individually to reschedule them, noting that the city has pledged not to make new appointments until all of those people have been seen.
Pharmacies prepare to start vaccines
The Biden administration also said Tuesday that it will begin direct shipments of COVID-19 vaccines to retail pharmacies next week, starting at about 6,500 stores.
“Millions of Americans go to their local pharmacies every day for their medications, flu shots and much more. And pharmacies are easily accessible in most communities, and most Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, “said White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.
Pharmacy chain CVS said it will begin vaccination next week as part of the federal program. The 11 states where the pharmacy chain will begin vaccinating are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York (not including New York City), Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Vaccination appointments can be booked beginning Feb.9 at CVS locations offering the vaccine, according to the release, and eligibility requirements in each jurisdiction will continue to apply.
The additional doses of vaccine for pharmacies will come from increased production by vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer, Zients said.
“It is all the result of the expansion of production, and we look forward to doing everything we can, and we will do everything we can, to continue that expansion and make more vaccines available,” said Zients.
CNN’s Maggie Fox, Amanda Watts, Jacqueline Howard, Samira Said, Laura Ly, Virginia Langmaid, and Gisela Crespo contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism