President Joe Biden has said that even though the United States has seen a dramatic drop in the number of COVID-19 deaths due to its vaccination programme, the people must remain vigilant about the more virulent Delta variant that is spreading fast in the country.
Stressing the need for people to get vaccinated, he said “virtually all” of the Covid deaths and hospitalisations in the country are among the unvaccinated.
The highly contagious Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first detected in India in December and is spreading quickly across the globe. In some parts of America, the Delta strain accounts for more than 80 per cent of new infections, including some Midwestern states like Missouri, Kansas and Iowa.
Earlier this month, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that new Covid infections with the Delta variant account for 51.7 per cent of the infections in the US.
Addressing his second Cabinet meeting on the completion of six months of his administration on Tuesday, Biden said that overall, COVID-19 deaths have come down dramatically. And in the last six months, they have come down by about 90 per cent due to the vaccination programme.
“But we have to stay vigilant, especially with the Delta variant that’s out there. While COVID-19 cases are rising, virtually all of the Covid deaths and hospitalisations are from unvaccinated people. Let me say it again: virtually all are from unvaccinated people,” he said.
He said the safest thing to do for the people is to get vaccinated. And “that’s why we’re focusing, on our next phase, on getting the unvaccinated vaccinated,” he added.
The White House has ramped up efforts to combat misinformation about the vaccines, especially in social media, and conduct more targeted outreach in communities across the country, including to young people.
Experts believe the Delta variant could be the most dominant strain in the country in the coming weeks.
Local health officials say there is growing concern about the increasing number of adults and children getting infected with the Delta variant.
The average number of new COVID-19 cases each day this past week was 32,278, which is a 66 per cent jump from the average daily rate the previous week, and 145 per cent higher than the rate from two weeks ago, CNN reported.
If the more infectious Delta variant of the disease continues to expand in the US, particularly in unvaccinated populations, or if a vaccine-resistant variant arises, much of the progress the country has made could be reversed, experts have warned.
The US is still the world’s most affected country by the deadly pandemic. The country has registered more than 34,174,700 confirmed cases and reported over 609,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker.
Biden further said the US is not just vaccinating itself but will also help the world.
“We’re going to help vaccinate the world. We’re building back better to create jobs and grow the middle class not just at home, (but) everywhere. It’s in our interests that the economies of these other nations grow,” he asserted.
On the US economy, the world’s largest, Biden said it is making historic progress.
“The American people are overwhelmingly supportive of our plans — that’s the support that a lot of our friends and the other team kind of miss. The polling data shows that they strongly support our effort for infrastructure,” he said.
Biden said his presidency is taking steps to restore American leadership in the world.
For the last four years, he said, the US has been “behind the eight ball”.
“We’ve lost a lot of our standing. I don’t have to tell that to my buddy sitting to my right here — the Secretary of State. He understands it well,” he added.
Biden said the US is in a defining competition right now for the second quarter of the 21st century with China and many other nations.
“Many of these nations believe that autocracy is the future, that democracies cannot compete with autocracies because it’s so hard. Things are moving so rapidly, technologically and otherwise, that democracies can’t get the act together enough to get a consensus on how to move,” he said.