Coronavirus Variants, Vaccination Rate Challenges Loom as US Hits ‘Summer of Joy’

By Chris Hannas, Jesusemen Oni | VOA News |

(VOA PHOTO FILE) People, mostly maskless, walk past the Giant Dipper rollercoaster ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, in Santa Cruz, California, June 28, 2021.

The COVID-19 narrative in the United States a year ago was one of hospitalizations, shifting state-by-state regulations, and hoping and waiting for vaccines to emerge, as the country was on the upswing of a second surge of infections.    

It would be a long wait, and a painful one, with millions more cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths to come.   

The story of 2021, on the other hand, is about vaccinations and variants of the virus, two related and competing forces set to shape American life.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told VOA that while the United States has seen a substantial reduction in cases, progress has flattened out, and the delta variant is “now picking off unvaccinated people.”

“A very telling statistic is that if you look at who’s being hospitalized today, who are the people getting so sick with COVID that they need to come into the hospital, 90-plus percent of them are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated,” Schaffner said. “In other words, the vaccines are keeping vaccinated people out of the hospital. They’re doing their job. But there are so many unvaccinated people that the virus keeps finding them, making them sick and admitting them to the hospital, all of which is preventable.”

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