The coronavirus vaccination program in the US is continuing to ramp up in a major way, with the number of COVID vaccinations continuing to tick up as coronavirus cases have declined around the country in recent days.
Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker shows that through midday Tuesday, 76.9 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the US — at a rate of 1.82 million doses per day, on average, over the past week. Within the past few days, a third coronavirus vaccine (this one from Johnson & Johnson) was added to the mix of vaccines authorized for emergency use in the US, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in new public remarks that at FEMA-supported vaccination sites that are being set up around the US, they’ll eventually be able to vaccinate up to 6,000 people a day. “It is important that people understand that the vaccine is safe,” Mayorkas told reporters. Having said all that, though, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci is nevertheless concerned that we still might not be doing all this fast enough.
In fact, during an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation on February 28, Dr. Fauci went so far as calling out two states by name (“We do have some worrisome (coronavirus) variants in California and New York”). And, at a higher level, Dr. Fauci went on to add that it’s “encouraging” to see the drop in new coronavirus cases over the last few weeks — but we shouldn’t really break out the party favors and start celebrating yet.
“Over the last several days, it’s kind of stopped at around 70,000 and lingered there for a day or two” Dr. Fauci said about the recent national drop. “That is concerning, because the thing we don’t want is to have it plateau at 70,000 per day. That’s exactly the thing that happened during previous surges.”
In other words, he thinks the number of new COVID cases isn’t actually falling far enough, fast enough. A decline is good, but when the cases inevitably start rising again to some degree, his point is that you want them to do so from as low a baseline as possible.
Experts are still studying the impact of new, more transmissible strains of the coronavirus that have popped up in New York and California, especially to see how effective the vaccines are against them. To that point, Dr. Fauci reiterated during an appearance on CNN that while we don’t have all the answers to those questions, here’s what we do know:
“We don’t know if (the vaccines) work directly against it, but that’s the point you want to get across to people. Even though this vaccine is not directly matched to a variant that might occur … (with) the higher level of protection against the original one, there’s a spillover of protection against the variant.”