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Indian Delta variant could create two Americas, experts warn 

Experts have warned that geographic differences in vaccination rates could divide the country into ‘two Americas’ if the Delta variant takes hold in areas with low vaccine coverage.

As of Friday, the Delta variant first identified in India accounted for 10 percent of new U.S. cases, but it is highly contagious, and the CDC expects it to dominate in a matter of weeks.

Strong regional variations in vaccination coverage have emerged after doses were made available to all adults, with liberal states in the Northeast vaccinated at nearly double the rate of conservative strongholds in the Deep South.  

‘I call it two COVID nations,’ Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told BuzzFeed News. ‘Somehow we have to break this idea that allegiance to conservatism and the Republican Party has to do with not getting vaccinated.’

'I call it two COVID nations,' Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine

‘I call it two COVID nations,’ Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine

The Delta variant led to havoc in the UK, now accounting for nearly 100 percent of all cases and delaying the end of lockdown restrictions by four weeks.

British data indicate that the Delta variant is between 40 percent and 60 percent more transmissible than the UK Alpha variant, which is now the dominant strain in the U.S. 

A troubling study of cases in Scotland published this week also suggests Delta is more deadly, finding that the risk of hospital admission with the Delta variant was roughly doubled compared to people infected with the Alpha variant.

On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a stark warning about the Delta variant as it became clear the country will fall short of his goal of 70 percent vaccination by July 4.

‘The best way to protect yourself against these variants is to get vaccinated,’ the president declared. 

On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a stark warning about the Delta variant as it became clear the country will fall short of his goal of 70 percent vaccination by July 4

On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a stark warning about the Delta variant as it became clear the country will fall short of his goal of 70 percent vaccination by July 4

A map shows strong regional differences in attitudes toward vaccination. Darker shaded counties indicate a higher percentage of vaccine hesitancy

A map shows strong regional differences in attitudes toward vaccination. Darker shaded counties indicate a higher percentage of vaccine hesitancy

Daily vaccinations have ticked up in recent days, as states introduce new incentives, but remain well below their April peak as interest appears to plateau

Daily vaccinations have ticked up in recent days, as states introduce new incentives, but remain well below their April peak as interest appears to plateau

‘The truth is that deaths and hospitalizations are drastically down in places where people are getting vaccinated,’ he added. 

‘But unfortunately, cases and hospitalizations are not going down in many places in the lower-vaccination-rate states. They’re actually going up in some places.’

Nationally, about 45 percent of the nation’s adult population is fully vaccinated, with liberal Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts leading the way with at least 60 percent full vaccination.

On the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia have the lowest vaccination rates, with less than 35 percent of their residents fully vaccination.

Persistent differences in attitudes towards vaccination remain between Democrats and Republicans.

The latest KFF data show that 80 percent of Democrats say that they have already gotten the vaccine or want to as soon as possible, compared to 55 percent of Republicans. 

On Friday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says she expects the Delta variant to become dominant in the U.S. within eight weeks. 

‘Yes, I think that’s going to be the case,’ Dr Rochelle Walensky said on ABC’s Good Morning America when asked if she thinks the mutant strain will become dominant.

‘Essentially what happens is, when these viruses mutate, they do so with some advantage to the virus. In this case, it’s more transmissible.’

She added that when it comes to the Alpha ‘Kent’ variant that originated in the UK, it only took one or two months to make up the majority of U.S. infections.

‘I anticipate that’s what going to happen with the Delta strain here,’ Walensky said. 


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