As the U.S. aims to ramp up inoculations to win the race against COVID-19 variants, more than 1 in 4 adults are now fully vaccinated.
While more than 66 million people have received two doses, more than a third of eligible Americans — or 112 million — have received at least one dose, according to data published Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials and experts hope to get Americans vaccinated quickly as lockdown fatigue takes its toll and many people are letting down their guard just as more transmissible, and perhaps more deadly, variants of the virus become dominant. In that effort, all 50 states have committed to opening vaccinations to all Americans 16 and up by April 19.
"It's almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this surge that seems to want to increase," Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this week, noting Europe is experiencing a spike much like the one experts worry about for the U.S.
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The U.S. is still averaging above 60,000 new cases a day — a level Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said puts the US at risk for another surge. Experts are especially concerned about the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the UK and now the dominant strain in the U.S.
"I wish we had another three or four months before this B.1.1.7 variant surge started to occur," Dr. Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said this week.
As states including California and Vermont plan to fully reopen this summer, experts are warning that to truly declare victory against the variants, Americans need to get vaccinated and continue measures like social distancing and mask wearing.