US vaccinations slow as new Covid cases nearly triple

President Joe Biden called it 'gigantically important' for Americans to be vaccinated

A student receives a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine at the University of Memphis in Tennessee.  Reuters
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The administration of US President Joe Biden and states are pushing for more vaccinations while the country experiences an increase in coronavirus cases caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

“If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalised, you’re not going to be in the [intensive care] unit, and you’re not going to die,” Mr Biden said at a forum at Mount St Joseph University on Wednesday night, which was organised by CNN.

“So, it’s gigantically important that … we all act like Americans who care about our fellow Americans.”

US hospital admissions and deaths are nearly all among the unvaccinated.

But Covid-19 cases almost tripled in the US over the past two weeks amid vaccine misinformation, with the new surge straining hospitals and exhausting doctors.

Across the US, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from fewer than 13,700 on July 6, data from Johns Hopkins University showed.

As the president's wife, Jill Biden, took off on Wednesday on the way to Tokyo for the Olympics, she stopped in Alaska, where she praised efforts to vaccinate residents in the rugged, remote state.

But Dr Biden said the work was not done.

Alaska, like other states in the country, is seeing case numbers rise and health officials have expressed concern over flattening vaccination rates.

Vaccinations are slowing to an average of 443,000 doses administered daily, in a seven-day average recorded by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is down from an average of three million daily immunisations in the spring.

“Even as we celebrate the progress we’ve made, we know that this last push is really the hardest of all,” Dr Biden said while visiting the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage.

Having more people vaccinated will mean making the case “person by person", she said.

CDC: Delta variant 'is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses'

CDC: Delta variant 'is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses'

Some states where vaccine hesitancy remains high have joined others in offering cash prizes for those willing to take the vaccine.

Missouri on Wednesday announced an incentive programme that includes $10,000 prizes and scholarships for 900 winners.

The winners will be chosen every two weeks from August 13 to October 8, with previously and newly vaccinated adults and children eligible.

The state’s vaccination rate is about 40 per cent while the national rate for people over 12 years who have received at least one vaccine dose is about 66 per cent, CDC figures show.

The rise in cases is largely affecting the unvaccinated, but the Delta variant poses some challenges as it has also caused some breakthrough cases in inoculated people.

About 57 per cent of the vaccine-eligible population in the US has been fully vaccinated.

Almost 610,000 people in the US have died from Covid-19, Johns Hopkins University data showed.

Updated: July 22, 2021, 7:44 PM

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