President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on Friday, June 18, 2021, regarding the achievement of 300 million COVID-19 vaccinations.
Evan Vucci | AP
President Joe Biden on Friday doubled his government’s request that Americans get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as possible, warning that the highly transmissible Delta variant appears to be “particularly dangerous” for young people.
“The data is clear: if you are not vaccinated, there is a risk that you will become seriously ill or die or spread,” Biden said during a White House press conference.
Delta, the variant of Covid identified for the first time in India, “will make unvaccinated people even more vulnerable than it was a month ago,” he added. “It’s a more easily transmissible, potentially more deadly, and particularly dangerous variant for young people.”
Biden said that young people can best protect themselves by getting fully vaccinated.
“Please, please, when you have a shot, get the second shot as soon as you can,” he said.
The president’s remarks come as his administration’s latest goal of partially vaccinating 70% of US adults by July 4th is on the way to falling as the pace of vaccination slows.
The World Health Organization’s chief scientist said Friday that Delta is becoming the dominant strain of the disease worldwide. This is due to its “significantly increased transferability,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO senior scientist, during a press conference.
Studies suggest that Delta is about 60% more transmissible than Alpha, the variant first identified in the UK that was more contagious than the original strain that emerged from Wuhan, China in late 2019.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also said Friday that she expects Delta to become the predominant variant in the United States and urged people to get vaccinated. The variant now accounts for 10% of all new cases in the US, up from 6% last week, according to data from CDC.
“As worrying as this Delta strain is about its hypertransmittance, our vaccines are working,” Walensky told ABC’s Good Morning America. If you get vaccinated, “you will be protected against this Delta variant,” she added.
Health experts say the Delta strain is of particular concern for young people, many of whom do not yet need to be vaccinated. While scientists still don’t know if Delta is causing more severe symptoms, there is evidence that it could cause different symptoms than other variants.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the Delta variant essentially replaced Alpha, the variant that swept Europe and later the US earlier this year. He said as the virus continues to mutate, the US will need a higher percentage of the vaccinated population.
“How much more information do we need to see this virus mutate and create viruses that are more contagious?” said Offit, also a member of the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products. “We have to vaccinate now. Let everyone vaccinate now.”
According to the CDC, as of Friday, more than 176 million Americans, or 53.1% of the population, had had at least one injection. More than 148 million Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the agency.
States are offering incentives ranging from free beer to $ 1 million worth of lotteries to try to convince Americans to get a prick.
On Friday, Biden announced some of these incentives, including the fact that most pharmacies offer 24-hour service on select days in June.