300 million shots done, Biden declares ‘summer of joy’

United States President Joe Biden speaks at the State Department on Thursday, February 4, 2021. (Photo: State Dept/IANS)

New York, June 19 (IANS) In the run up to Americas Independence Day weekend, US President Joe Biden struck a sunny note Friday declaring that the US is heading into a “very different summer compared to last year” after 300 million Covid-19 vaccines in arms in the 150 days since he took office.

“We’re heading into a very different summer compared to last year,” Biden said. “A bright summer. Prayerfully, a summer of joy.”

The White House announced plans to host more than a 1,000 guests – mainly frontline workers and their families – on the South Lawn for a cookout on July Fourth. This is tipped to be one of the biggest in-person events of Biden’s presidency so far.

Biden was aiming to have 70 per cent of Americans at least partially vaccinated against Covid-19 by July 4. With the pace of vaccinations now dropping sharply off the highs in April, the current number stands at 65 per cent. Among adults alone, 55 per cent are fully vaccinated. Across America’s 50 states, 26 states and Washington D.C. have fully vaccinated 50 per cent or more of adults, according to White House data.

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, 42.6 per cent of the US population is now fully vaccinated. Covid caseloads, hospitalisations and deaths in the US are down to their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic last year.

Despite the upside of strong vaccination numbers, the CDC is warning that the Delta variant of the coronavirus, first detected in India, is surging and will become the dominant strain in the US.

The CDC is telling Americans that those who get their shots will be “protected against this Delta variant.”

Three characteristics of the latest variant have doctors hitting the alarm bells again. It’s more contagious, more deadly and causing more breakout infections even among those who are partially vaccinated, according to Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

“If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re actually pretty well protected. But even if you’re just partly vaccinated, we’re seeing a lot of breakthrough infections. So, this is possibly the worst variant we have seen, the most challenging variant throughout the entire pandemic,” Jha told NBC.

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