It’s been the topic on all of our minds for the past year and a half: how much longer will this pandemic last, and when will life return to some type of normalcy? President Biden has really been able to get the ball rolling in terms of vaccination rates, making many Americans hopeful that we will be able to return to life as we knew it sooner rather than later. As he gave his speech to Congress on April 28th, Biden stressed many new proposals that shed a light of hope on the upcoming months. The President addressed the fading of the pandemic that has killed more than 573,000 people in this country, and acknowledged the progress in vaccinating most American adults and easing public health restrictions that have put such a strain on everyday life for over a year. [bf_image id="ww4ssq5vnpn8mk3g7t7n9stj"]
At the time of Biden's address, more than 143 million Americans over age 18 had received at least one dose of a vaccine, and more than 105 million have been fully vaccinated. As of May 3rd, the United States was recording just under 50,000 new cases and 733 deaths a day, down from highs of around 260,000 new cases and 4,000 deaths a day in January. Biden voiced his passion for getting the country back on track as he stated, “Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setbacks into strength. We all know life can knock us down. But in America, we never, ever, ever stay down.”
With a lot of numbers, statistics and studies being thrown around, I feel like it is important to be well educated and well informed on the status of the pandemic and our nation’s health at this point in time. For that reason, let me share some up-to-date statistics for you in order to best inform yourself and your loved ones of the goings-on of Covid-19 in the month of May. As of May 9th, the total number of vaccines that have been delivered to vaccination sites is 329,843,825 and the number of vaccines that have been administered is 259,716,989. Out of these numbers, a total of 152,116,936 people have had at least one dose of the vaccine and 114,258,244 people are fully vaccinated by this point, or have had both doses of the vaccine, which makes up about 35% of our population. This percentage is predominantly made up of the age demographic above 65, as this age range was given priority with the initial rollout of the vaccine. However, Biden is implementing the subsequent stages of his Covid relief plan to include vaccine accessibility for all age ranges.
[bf_image id="85qvwbsfjqjq9ccjs6vv86r5"] Another point to cover is the concept of herd immunity. President Biden did not mention “herd immunity” in his address on the 28th of April, but the term is defined by most scientists as the time when 70-90% of Americans are fully vaccinated. The New York Times has reported that scientists now think that new variants are emerging too quickly and vaccination proceeding too slowly for the United States to reach herd immunity anytime soon. The news source quoted Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, denoting herd immunity as a somewhat “mystical” concept. Fauci stated, “We stopped using herd immunity in the classic sense. You vaccinate enough people, the infections are going to go down," and vaccinating the most vulnerable may be enough to return to a sense of normalcy.
Going forward, President Biden addressed the nation as moving into three new areas. As infection rates in children have been increasing, the first step will be vaccinating children aged 12 to 15 as soon as the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for this age range, which is expected to be mid-May. In terms of accessibility, the second stage of Biden’s plan will be for the FDA to make vaccines more convenient to obtain, such as getting vaccinations at pharmacies and doctors’ offices. In light of this, pharmacies will offer walk-in hours, as the mere need to make an appointment has stopped many people from getting the vaccine. In addition, some incentives for getting vaccinated will be offered in some grocery stores and major sports leagues to advocate for stopping the spread. The third and final approach will be convincing those who are reluctant to receive the vaccine, the highest percentage of this population being a demographic of Trump supporters in the southern states of Mississippi and Alabama, as they have the lowest vaccination rates in the country with only about 64% of the vaccines delivered having been administered. In contrast, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Minnesota, all of which voted for Biden, have the highest vaccination rates, with about 90% of delivered vaccines administered. [bf_image id="2scq8n6zrtxzx5w9cz23cstg"]
While it is important to be up to date and informed on this issue, I think it is important to remember that this is not a partisan issue, it is a national global health and safety issue. Biden emphasized this sentiment as he addressed hesitant people in saying, “Talk to someone you trust, like your physician or your pharmacist or people who have already been vaccinated. Talk to your faith leaders or others in your community that you trust. Look to those people to help answer your questions. This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue.” In reference and respect to the health and safety of the American public, I do hope this message is heard and followed to the best of everyone’s ability so that life can resume to some type of normalcy in the very near future.