The highly contagious variant that first emerged in the UK has now spread to all 50 states, as experts warn that there aren’t enough vaccines available to prevent it from causing another spike in cases.
More than 15,000 cases have already been detected in the US of the B117 variant, which is believed to be more transmissible and more lethal than previous versions, CNN reported.
“The United States seems to have ended the pandemic. The virus is not finished with us, ”Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told the outlet.
While vaccines are effective against the variant, they are not being rolled out quickly enough to keep cases from increasing.
“We are not going to get enough vaccines, as we are going, in the arms of enough Americans over the course of the next six to 10 weeks with this surge that we are going to stop,” Osterholm said. “It’s just not going to happen.”
Osterholm said vaccination efforts should focus on getting Americans to receive as many first doses of injections as possible.
“Right now, with the surge about to happen, this is what we want to do now is protect as many people as possible from serious illness, hospitalization and death,” Osterholm said.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned against delaying second doses to prioritize getting as many injections into the arms as possible.
“You’re in a fragile zone if you don’t have the full impact,” said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases about not receiving the full vaccine regimen.
“So there is some merit in the arguments that are made. But right now, given the number of vaccines that we can administer every day, literally every day that passes, we are getting closer and closer to where we want to be. “