Across the US, Americans are starting to think about COVID-19 as a memory. Many are no longer wearing masks in convenience stores and gyms after President Biden’s confusing mask guidance, which was interpreted as many as a curtain call on the hated practice. Credible physicians, including Johns Hopkins’ surgeon Dr. Marty Makary, have posited that the US might already have reached herd immunity, as the number of new cases continues to slow following the most recent peak in mid-April. Since January, the number of daily cases has slowed dramatically, falling from 300K cases per day on Jan. 2.
To try and entice more patients to accept the vaccine, some governors have offered lotteries with million-dollar payoffs, along with guns, beer and other cash prizes. These efforts have had mixed results (though the governor of Ohio insists that his state’s “Vax-a-Million” lottery campaign has helped encourage more adults to seek out the vaccine).
But survey data suggests that the US likely won’t see another surge in vaccine uptake, with 78% of respondents to a recent Gallup Poll saying they’re not planning on getting vaccinated and nothing will change their minds, which means President Biden’s latest goal of reaching 70% vaccination rates by the July 4th holiday – less than a month away – is looking increasingly unlikely.
Only 19% said they are somewhat likely to change their minds and 2% are very likely to decide to get vaccinated.
Presently in the US, fewer than 500K adults are being vaccinated each day, down from a peak of 3.4MM. As of Monday, 51.5% of the US population – or 170.8 million – have received an initial dose, which includes adult and children between ages 12 and 17.
In order to reach Biden’s goal, another 16MM more adults will need to have their first shot in the next 28 days.
Speaking again on CNBC Tuesday morning, Dr. Makary discussed the risks that COVID-19 poses to healthy individuals. He reiterated that while healthy people have gotten very sick, there haven’t been any cases of healthy, young people with zero documented co-morbidities actually dying.
“I think the concept of herd immunity is one that got misinterpreted as eradication…we will likely keep seeing COVID for decades,” Dr. Makary said.
Asked if he doesn’t believe young healthy people should get the vaccine, he clarified that the case to get the vaccine “is there…it’s just not as compelling.” For example, even if healthy people might not die from COVID-19, they can still get really sick, potentially causing them to miss a week or two of work, or even spread the virus on to somebody else. As anybody with “long-haul” COVID-19 can attest, the virus can be devastating, even if it’s not fatal.
Only 2.4MM Americans got vaccinated last week, roughly half the 4.2MM weekly level that the country needs to meet Biden’s goal.
Southern states are seeing the lowest demand, and there is a political dimension to the situation: survey data shows that healthy adults who vote Republican are less likely to seek the vaccine than healthy adults who vote Democrat. In Alabama, for instance, only given 45.9% of adult residents their first dose of the vaccine, and last week the state had “just four people per 10K residents get vaccinated,” according to the newspaper.
So far, just 13 states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have already vaccinated 70% of adults.
In total, 597,952 Americans have died from COVID-19 so far, while 33.38MM have been infected. But at this point, the US is reporting fewer than 350 deaths per day now.