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President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, has warned that the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus in the US could effectively lead to the creation of “two Americas” for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
He said he is particularly worried now that the highly contagious Delta variant, which originated in India, accounts for more than a quarter of all Covid-19 cases in the US.
“When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among under-vaccinated regions, be that states, cities or counties, you're going to see these individual types of blips,” he said. “It's almost like it's going to be two Americas.”
The good news, Dr Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, is that the worst impacts could be avoided by boosting vaccinations.
“This is entirely avoidable, entirely preventable,” he said. “If you are vaccinated, you diminish dramatically your risk of getting infected and even more dramatically your risk of getting seriously ill.”
“If you are not vaccinated, you are at considerable risk,” he warned.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delta variant, which is more contagious and aggressive than other variants, has reached nearly every state in the US.
Already, the spread of the variant has had a deadly impact on areas with low vaccination rates.
In Mississippi, where just 29.7 per cent of the population is fully jabbed, more than 90 per cent of coronavirus cases and deaths over the past month have been in unvaccinated people, Dr Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer for the Mississippi Department of Public Health, told CNN.
The state is one of several with less than 35 per cent of residents vaccinated, with Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Wyoming also having less than 35 per cent of residents fully vaccinated, according to the broadcaster.
According to the CDC, 154.2 million people in the US have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, 179.9 million have received at least one dose of a vaccine.