Today’s big question

Has Delta variant undone US gains in Covid battle?

Government data shows rise in infections in almost every state

The US is struggling to control the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19, with more than 90% of the nation’s counties reporting “substantial or high transmission”.

According to latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  the US recorded 132,384 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, while the seven-day average has increased by 24% to around 114,000 cases per day. 

Hospital admissions have increased to about 9,700 per day, up by 31% from the previous week - and the vast majority of Covid-related deaths or cases requiring hospital care are among the unvaccinated. 

Vaccine slowdown

The US was among the world leaders in vaccine uptake until around mid April, but the country’s vaccination rates have now plateaued.

Oxford University tracking shows that the US is lagging behind nations including Canada, the UK, Italy and Germany, in terms of doses administered as a share of the total population.

The vaccination slowdown is not down to a lack of jabs, which “isn’t generally a problem” in the US, says the BBC.

With just under 60% of the US population having received their first jab, a drop-off was inevitable.

But “the UK and other developed countries have typically reached a larger share of their population before their vaccination rate has dipped”, the broadcaster continues. Experts point to a “lack of urgency among some healthy young people” in the US to get inoculated against coronavirus, and widespread mistrust of the vaccine. 

According to a recent YouGov poll of 1,500 US citizens, one in five Americans believes the government is using vaccines to microchip the population. A further 18% said they had no plans to get vaccinated, with 85% of the so-called jab refuseniks believing that the Covid threat had been “exaggerated for political reasons”.

Distrust is most widespread among Republican voters, with 29% of GOP supporters saying they would not get the jab, compared with just 4% of Democrats.

Delta rising

Experts say that the highly transmissible Delta variant is fuelling the US pandemic. 

Louisiana, Florida and Arkansas reported the most new Covid cases in the past week, based on population.

A total of 38 states have reported an increase in new cases greater than 50%, Newsweek reports. These states include Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada, Texas, New York, Colorado and Michigan, “and nearly all the states in the South”.

A further 11 states recorded increases of between 10% and 50%, including Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Nebraska, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. 

Only Montana has a “steady” transmission rate, says the magazine, and “there weren’t any states that were on the downward slope”. 

In Arkansas, the state governor warned that only “eight intensive care unit beds were available on Monday”, reports Reuters. And in neighbouring Texas, hospitals were asked to “postpone elective surgeries as the variant raged through swathes” of the state and beyond, the news agency adds. 

Meanwhile in Florida, the number of children being hospitalised by the illness is “sounding alarms”, the Miami Herald reports. The southern state is ranking as one of the worst in the nation for child hospitalisation

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