More than 50% of Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, but the seven day average of daily cases is 741% higher than it was in mid-June. And hospitalizations are up 40%. To many, it feels like deja vu. Dr. Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health director and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s boss, appeared on This Week yesterday to sound a warning: now is our chance to stop this before it gets even worse. Read on for 5 life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
“I’m afraid we should not really have ever gotten in the place we are,” said Dr. Collins. “So in that regard, yes, we are failing. We have vaccines that we know are highly effective and safe, and yet half the country is still not fully vaccinated. And about 90 million people have not even gotten one dose. We would not be in the place we are right now with this Delta surge if we’d been more effective in getting everybody to take advantage of these immunizations, and now we’re paying a terrible price, as the cases go up quickly.”
“Most of the cases, of course now in unvaccinated people, almost all of the deaths are unvaccinated people,” said Collins. “And these are younger people now, including children, the largest number of children so far in the whole pandemic right now are in the hospital, 1,450 kids in the hospital from COVID-19. And of course, since they’re under 12, many of them, they couldn’t be vaccinated, but the rest of us who were over 12 could have done a better job.”
Is Delta worse for kids than previous variants? “We don’t have rigorous data to show for sure that they are, but I certainly am hearing from pediatricians that they’re concerned that this time, the kids who are in the hospital are both more numerous and more seriously ill,” said Collins. “We’ll have to get better comparisons to be sure. We do have evidence that Delta may be more serious for older folks as well, and including middle aged people and, and twenties and thirties, where it does seem from studies in Singapore and in Scotland. And then in Canada that this is a virus that’s not only more contagious, but potentially more lethal.”
RELATED: I’m a Doctor and Here’s How to Not Catch Delta
Collins is pro vaccine mandates. “I think we ought to use every public health tool we can when people are dying, death rates are starting up again,” he said. “And you just go in through the numbers about how many new cases we are seeing. We are on a very steep up swift of that curve. And we ought to be thinking of every possible intervention.” He continued, talking about how vaccination has become politicized: “I mean, how did we get here? Why is it that a mandate about vaccine or about wearing a mask suddenly becomes a statement of your political party We never should have let that happen. Come on America. We can separate these, can’t we? We don’t really need to be polarized about a virus that’s killing people. We ought to be doing everything we can to save lives. And that means get the vaccine. And that means wear the mask when you’re indoors, in a crowded space. And if you’re unvaccinated wear it all the time.”
“I would ask that they would think about masks in the way that they ought to be thought about,” Collins implored parents. “This is not a political statement or an invasion of your liberties. This is a lifesaving medical device and asking kids to wear a mask is uncomfortable, but, you know, kids are pretty resilient. We know that kids under 12 are likely to get infected. And if we don’t have masks in schools, this virus will spread more widely. It will probably result in outbreaks in schools and kids will have to go back to remote learning, which is the one thing we really want to prevent this kind of virtual learning, which kids have had to go through now for more than a year is really bad for their development. We ought to be making every effort to make sure they can be back in the classroom. And the best way to do that is to be sure that masks are worn by the students, by the staff, by everybody. It’s a small price to pay for being able to keep kids where they need to be, to learn.”
RELATED: 9 Everyday Habits That Might Lead to Dementia
Collins said he was studying the Lambda variant, which came from Peru. “We have a very vigorous team that looks at every new emerging variant to see what would its effect be, in terms of the vaccine— will the vaccine work against this one? So far, so good. We don’t have anxieties yet about Delta or Lambda or any of the others that are sort of lurking out there, but we all worry about the day when a variant arises, that is so different from the original Wuhan virus, that basically the vaccine stopped working as well. And then we have to really move forward quickly with the booster. The best way to prevent that from happening is to reduce the number of infections. Because that’s how mutant has happened. It’s because people are infected with the virus and it copies itself slightly wrong, and then you get something that’s even worse. So all the more reason why we should be doing everything possible to cut back the wild spread of Delta so that we don’t get something even more dangerous.”
RELATED: Signs You’re Getting One of the “Most Deadly” Cancers
“If people are listening to this who still haven’t taken that step it’s time. In fact, it’s past time, but it’s not too late, but certainly we are going to have to deal with hospitalizations, all kinds of stresses on the medical care system and unnecessary deaths because of what’s already present, but we got to do everything we can to stop that. And that includes the wearing of masks in places where we can reduce the spread of this very contagious virus.” So get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.