America is one of the few countries with enough vaccines at its disposal to protect every resident — and yet it has the highest rates of vaccine hesitance or refusal of any nation except Russia. — Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times Reporter
America is one of the few countries with enough vaccines at its disposal to protect every resident — and yet it has the highest rates of vaccine hesitance or refusal of any nation except Russia. — Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times Reporter
The Delta Variant Is the Symptom of a Bigger Threat: Vaccine Refusal
There are almost as many reasons for vaccine hesitancy and refusal as there are unvaccinated Americans. But this problem, not the variant, lies at the root of rising infection rates.

After an all too brief respite, the United States is again at a crossroads in the pandemic. The number of infections has ticked up — slowly at first, then swiftly — to 51,000 cases per day, on average, more than four times the rate a month ago. The country may again see overflowing hospitals, exhausted health care workers and thousands of needless deaths.

The more contagious Delta variant may be getting the blame, but fueling its rise is an older, more familiar foe: vaccine hesitancy and refusal, long pervasive in the United States. Were a wider swath of the population vaccinated, there would be no resurgence — of the Delta variant, or Alpha variant, or any other version of the coronavirus.

While mild breakthrough infections may be more common than once thought, the vaccines effectively prevent severe illness and death. Yet nearly half of the population remains unvaccinated and unprotected. About 30 percent of adults have not received even a single dose, and the percentage is much higher in some parts of the country.

America is one of the few countries with enough vaccines at its disposal to protect every resident — and yet it has the highest rates of vaccine hesitance or refusal of any nation except Russia.


Public health experts have fruitlessly warned for months that the virus — any version of it — would resurge if the country did not vaccinate enough of the population quickly enough. Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, predicted in January that Florida might have a rough summer. Now one in five new infections nationwide is in Florida.

True, the speed and ferocity with which the Delta variant is tearing through Asia, Europe, Africa and now North America has taken many experts by surprise. It now accounts for about 83 percent of the infections in the United States.

But Delta is by no means the wickedest variant out there. Gamma and Lambda are waiting in the wings, and who knows what frightful versions are already flourishing undetected in the far corners of the world, perhaps even here in America.

Every infected person, anywhere in the world, offers the coronavirus another opportunity to morph into a new variant. The more infections there are globally, the more likely new variants will arise.

The United States will be vulnerable to every one of them until it can immunize millions of people who now refuse to get the vaccine, are still persuadable but hesitant, or have not yet gained access. The unvaccinated will set the country on fire over and over again.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/25/health/coronavirus-vaccine-refusal.html