Healthcare Economy

US Vaccine Delivery Tops 100 Million as Concern Over Variants Surges

According to the CDC, 102,353,940 doses of vaccines have been delivered in the U.S. Of these, 78,631,601 have been administered. A total of 15.6% of Americans have been given at least one dose of vaccine. Another 7.9% have been given two doses.

As the dose distribution level rose above 100 million, the milestone was bracketed between two other pieces of news. Enough vaccine will be available for all U.S. adults by May 31, as Merck begins to help Johnson & Johnson manufacture vaccine doses. However, worry about the rapid spread of variants has caused public health officials to talk about a fourth national surge in cases.

The 100 million dose delivery level has been a long time coming when considered in light of what the Trump Administration said would occur in the first part of the year. Competition with other nations for doses and a poorly planned role out of the national vaccination process pushed timelines back for weeks or more. The most recent plan by the Biden Administration was to have 200 million doses available by July. The recent approval of the J&J vaccine and the aid from Merck has helped improve that timeline.

There are three variants the CDC reports upon on its public website. Scientists say at least another two have appeared in New York State and California. The B.1.1.7 variant, B.1.351 variant, and P.1 variant have been reported in at least 46 states according to the CDC. Almost half of these are in New York State, Florida, California, and Michigan. According to a report by Ars Technica about the B.1.1.7 variant, “As expected, it has continued spreading and now accounts for an estimated 10 percent of cases nationwide, up from an estimated 1 to 4 percent a few weeks ago.” The CDC believes it could be the predominant variant by the end of March.

Adding to the concerns of public health officials, the Governor of Texas has dropped the state’s mask mandate and plans to reopen the entire state by March 10 when businesses can operate at full capacity. Other states plan to follow with partial reopenings and changes in mask mandates.

The 100 million dose level is indeed a major milestone, but the battle to arrest the disease is far from over. These are the states where the most people are refusing vaccines.