Throughout the pandemic, health officials have been constantly warning people to take precautions like maintaining social distancing guidelines and wear a mask. Most importantly medical professionals have encouraged people to get the vaccine. While experts believe that the vaccination program in the United States is setting a good precedent for the future, experts believe that more people need to be vaccinated to prevent another Covid 19 surge.
Covid 19 Surge Likely To Affect The Youth
While there has been a reported increase in vaccinations, only 18.8% of the total population has received the vaccine’s protection. This number is not enough to prevent another surge in the Covid-19 cases from occurring. Dr. Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist, and specialist in infectious diseases said, “ I do think we still have a few more rough weeks ahead. What we know from the past year of the pandemic is that we tend to trend about three to four weeks behind Europe in terms of our pandemic patterns.”
The most prominent cause for worry is the B.1.1.7 variant that is reported to be both highly infectious and deadly. Experts are worried about the rapidness with which the variant has infected and will potentially infect others especially the younger generation who have not yet been vaccinated.
Dr. Peter Hotez who is the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine said, “We have to think about the B.1.1.7 variant as almost a brand-new virus. It’s acting differently from anything we’ve seen before, in terms of transmissibility, in terms of affecting young people, so we have to take this very seriously.”
While the US has hit over 4 million vaccinations in the last week, Covid 19 cases are still an ever-increasing menace. According to the Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky there has been an increase in Coronavirus cases for four weeks in succession. Dr. Walensky stated, “We know that these increases are due, in part, to more highly transmissible variants, which we are very closely monitoring.”
Dr. Walensky noted that several cases are linked to transmission of the virus to young people during participation in sports or other extracurricular activities. The CDC has recommended that such events and activities be controlled to prevent transmission of the virus.
“I understand that people are tired and that they are ready for this pandemic to be over, as am I. Please, continue to hang in there, and to continue to do things that we know prevent the spread of the virus,” Dr. Walensky stated. Medical experts like Dr. Leana Wen that the principal difference between a previous surge in cases and an approaching surge is the likelihood of it affecting the younger generation.
This is due to the fact that so far vaccinations have been given only to older individuals. Older people were prioritized to receive the vaccine to get ahead of the effect of the virus. It is only recently have stated begun to work on methods to vaccinate the younger population and others who have as yet not received the vaccine.
Officials have recognized the need to act fast due to recent developments in the Covid 19 cases. New Jersey and Maryland have begun opening eligibility criteria for the vaccine to those aged 16 and above. While most are yet to receive the vaccine younger groups, in particular, are susceptible to the B.1.1.7 variant especially.
Dr. Wen said, “We’re seeing in places like Michigan that the people who are now getting hospitalized by large numbers are people in their 30s and 40s. And now we’re even seeing children getting infected in larger numbers, too.”
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has elaborated on the current situation. He said, “What we’re seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven’t been vaccinated, and also in school-aged children. If you look at what’s happening in Michigan, in Minnesota, in Massachusetts, for example, you’re seeing outbreaks in schools and infections in social cohorts that haven’t been exposed to the virus before.”