The number of new coronavirus cases in the United States decreased by 15 per cent compared with last week as the Biden administration began rolling out Covid-19 vaccine boosters to many Americans, leaders of the White House Covid response team said Friday.
“As of yesterday, the seven-day daily average of cases was about 73,000 cases per day, which represents a decrease of about 15 per cent over the previous week. The seven-day average of hospital admissions was about 6,000 per day, also a decrease of about ten per cent,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rachel Walensky said during a White House Covid response team briefing.
White House Covid response coordinator Jeff Zients called the results “further evidence that President Biden’s plan to fight the virus is working”.
“Globally we’ve delivered over 200 million doses [of vaccines] to over 100 countries, tens of millions of Americans became eligible for enhanced protection from a vaccine booster shot and nationwide cases and hospitalisations are down more than 15 per cent,” Mr Zients said.
Dr Walensky noted that the CDC and FDA this week approved plans to allow Americans to “mix and match” booster shots, allowing those who previously received Pfizer’s or Moderna’s two-shot mRNA vaccine to get a booster shot from either manufacturer.
Currently, recommendations for mRNA booster shots are limited to those Americans who are 65 or older, or those aged 18 or older whose circumstances place them at risk of contracting Covid-19, such as Americans living in congregate settings, have underlying medical conditions, or have jobs that are high-risk for contracting Covid-19.
The Biden administration is also recommending that anyone aged 18 or older who has received the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccine receive a booster.
But despite the wide availability of vaccines and boosters, Dr Walensky noted that more than 64 million eligible Americans have not yet received a Covid-19 vaccine, even as the coronavirus continues to spread in many places.
“While we still have over 93 percent of our counties with high or moderate community transmission, currently around 64 million Americans remain unvaccinated, leaving themselves and their children, their families, their loved ones and communities vulnerable. If you have not yet been vaccinated, I encourage you to take the time to get the information you need to make the decision to get vaccinated,” she said.
Mr Zients said the new booster guidelines will make more than 120 million Americans eligible for a third shot “in the coming months”.
“This includes over 60 million vaccinated with Moderna and J&J, on top of the 60 million vaccinated with Pfizer,” he said, with roughly 70 million out of the 120 million eligible for boosters “today”.
He also stressed that no health insurance is required for the booster shots, which are now available at “over 80 thousand locations across the country” within five miles of 90 per cent of Americans.
“We’ve worked with governors, state and local health, departments, pharmacies, community and rural health centres, and other partners to ensure vaccine sites and providers have operations in place to get shots in arms quickly, efficiently, and equitably,” Mr Zients said.
“Our booster programme is off to a very strong start and today, with additional boosters authorised, we’re accelerating with tens of millions more Americans now eligible for enhanced protection. It’s been a very important week of progress in our fight against the virus and we’re laser-focused on executing … the president’s plan to move us further along on our path out of this pandemic”.