And the country has averaged more than 49,400 new Covid-19 cases daily in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins. On January 8, the country averaged more than 251,000 cases each day – the highest seven-day average of the pandemic.
“We are beginning to see the effects of all these vaccinations,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health for CNN on Monday.
In particular, he added among the country’s elderly population, who were early prioritized for the shots.
“This pandemic is now really among young people and it is a very dangerous time to be unvaccinated in the country because it is spreading quite effectively among young and non-vaccinated people,” Jha said.
So it is crucial that younger Americans also get a shot, experts say, both for their own protection and to help the country achieve broad protection.
Governor: Young Oregons admitted to ‘serious’ Covid-19
In Oregon, Prime Minister Kate Brown recently tightened some restrictions due to an increase in new cases and admissions.
US could handle this for ‘a long time’
More than 44% of the total U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly 32% are fully vaccinated, CDC data show.
Among American adults, more than 56% have received at least one shot, the data show, and more than 40.5% are fully vaccinated.
When the United States is able to vaccinate more than 70% of its adults, we may finally see a shining normality, Jha said Monday.
“Case numbers are dropping. We may not be on herd immunity, we are seeing small outbreaks here and there, but life is really starting to return to normal,” he said.
But what if we do not get there?
“It’s a problem,” Jha said. “We’re going to be stuck dealing with this for a long time.”
“If we just do not vaccinate, it is of course one of the things we have known that we get big outbreaks, you can get more varieties,” he said. “It will be difficult to do the big gatherings, indoor concerts, outdoor baseball games. These things will be much, much more difficult if we do not make more progress with vaccinations, ”he added.
What is likely to happen, an expert said, is communities with lower vaccination coverage will continue to see high transmission of the virus, while cases in other parts of the country with more vaccinations will be much lower.
“In this country, there is a real divide around vaccination,” said former CDC director Dr. Richard Besser to CNN. “People tend to live among people with similar beliefs.”
An important permit may come next week
The one puzzle that experts say is missing is getting kids vaccinated.
But there is good news on that front.
Pfizer has applied for an emergency use permit. The FDA, which is currently reviewing data submitted by Pfizer, will have to change the emergency use permit for the vaccine, but the process should be straightforward, the official said.
A group of advisers to the CDC will schedule a meeting following any FDA decision to expand the EUA to include new age groups and will advise the CDC on whether to recommend the use of the vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds.
Walensky will then have to decide whether the agency will recommend that the vaccine be used in the new age group.
“It will immediately add millions of more people who are eligible for vaccination. I bet many of these children will be vaccinated,” Jha told CNN. “It will also make a big difference in terms of building population immunity.”
Pfizer and Moderna are both testing their vaccines in children as young as 6 months and expect to ask the FDA for EUAs covering infants and children later in the year.
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.