This new wave has already been dubbed the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” by the CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. While we expect cases to climb, this wave is likely to be very different than the first and second waves because 56% of the US population has been given at least 1 dose of vaccination. This will reduce the impact on the healthcare system as hospitalizations and deaths should be much more muted.
States vary widely in vaccination rates
While the US has done a good job vaccinating, the variation amongst states is significant. Vermont leads the charge with two-thirds of its residents fully vaccinated and 75% with at least one dose. On the other hand, Mississippi is the biggest laggard with just one-third fully vaccinated and 38% with at least one dose.
This looks like potential trouble in Mississippi; however, the people that are most vulnerable in 65-years-old and above are highly vaccinated. Of those who are 65+ in Mississippi, 81.9% have received one dose and 76.2% are fully vaccinated.
Here are the stats from the CDC on vaccination rate by age group for the entire United States. Of those 65-74, 90.9% have received at least one dose and 81.2% are fully vaccinated.
This wave will be driven by the unvaccinated which tend to skew younger and healthier. Obviously, this will vary greatly state to state. I'm happy to be in a high vaccination state. In the end, this should mean fewer hospitalizations. Unfortunately, there will be more preventable deaths.
Expect more variants
In the end, we shouldn't be overly fearful of variants. In fact, more will come down the line. We don't get scared by the latest flu strain, and we don't track the new cases of flu. At some point, we will stop reporting every single case of COVID, we will learn to live with it.
Ideally, more people will get vaccinated so the next wave is limited in its scale and impact. For now, we say don't fear the variants.
By Chris Wang