Authorities warn that covid-19 variants could delay progress against the pandemic

(CNN) – As COVID-19-related infection and death rates decline across the United States, more cities and states have lifted security restrictions in anticipation of a better summer.But authorities continue to warn that those who are not vaccinated are still vulnerable to the virus, especially those dangerous variants that could set back national progress against the pandemic if they spread on a larger scale.

Nationwide, 64% of adults have received at least one dose of the covid-19 vaccine and about 53% are fully vaccinated, but the Biden administration’s goal is that 70% of adults have at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4th will fall short at the current rate. More than a dozen states have reached that goal as of this week, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Access barriers by economic reasons, doubts about vaccines and misinformation are some of the factors cited that have contributed to the slowdown in vaccination rates in the US from previous highs.

“This way of doubting the safety of vaccines, the need for vaccines … is very, very dangerous, and a lot of people are hearing this,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner said Thursday.

In five states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming – less than half of adult residents have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to CDC data released Thursday.

As authorities try to speed up the vaccination rate, recent data gives more credibility that vaccines are one of the best tools to fight the variants that could otherwise exacerbate the pandemic.

Two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine appear to provide good protection against some of the worrying new variants circulating, including variant B.1.617.2 or Delta, first observed in India, researchers reported Thursday.

“New variants will continue to emerge as the pandemic persists,” the researchers said, noting that there has been no evidence that the variants are exempt from vaccine protection.

“Therefore, increasing the proportion of the population immunized with current licensed, safe and effective vaccines remains a key strategy to minimize the emergence of new variants and end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Amaya Waymon, 16, receives her second COVID-19 vaccine at Neighborhood Medical Center in Tallahassee, Florida, on June 10, 2021.

FDA Debate on Vaccination of Children Continues

While the efficacy of vaccines in adults is demonstrated, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discussed Thursday whether additional measures are needed in the possible vaccination of children 11 years and older. less.

The Pfizer / BioNTech covid-19 vaccine is licensed for use in people 12 years of age and older. Moderna’s vaccine is licensed in people 18 years of age and older, although the company has asked the FDA to authorize its use in children only 12 years old. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is licensed for people 18 years of age and older.

One member of an FDA vaccine advisory panel spoke out strongly against expanding the emergency use authorization to coronavirus vaccines for children under 12, saying more safety data is needed. .

“Before we start vaccinating millions of teens and children, it’s important to find out what the consequences are,” said Dr. Cody Meissner, director of pediatric infectious diseases at Tufts University School of Medicine, who advocated testing more comprehensive.

Meissner spoke to CNN on Thursday and said he was particularly concerned about recent reports of a possible relationship between Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, among the very young.

Covid-19: vaccines and myocarditis 0:42

“We need a vaccine for adolescents and children,” Meissner told CNN. “But I think we also want to be sure that the benefit outweighs the risk.”

Meissner also praised the success of vaccines so far against the pandemic, saying: “These vaccines are equivalent to our achievements in space.”

FDA adviser Dr. Paul Offit told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday that he was “sure there was unanimity” among advisers on the importance of having a Covid-19 vaccine for children, despite disagreement over how potential vaccines are researched and licensed.

“I certainly think we would have a vaccine by the beginning of next year, and I hope that we will have a vaccine for children ages 6 to 12 by the end of the year,” Offit said.

“If we already overcome the pandemic, if all this is left behind, it will not be a problem, but we have not overcome the pandemic,” added Offit. “The variants are still out there and they are increasingly contagious. I think that when winter comes, we will see the rise of this virus again, so we still need a vaccine.

Covid-19 restrictions are reduced

According to new guidelines released by the CDC on Thursday, it is no longer necessary for people fully vaccinated against covid-19 to wear a mask in the outdoor areas of public transport.

For those who are not vaccinated, the CDC advises to continue using the mask.

“While those who are fully vaccinated can resume many activities without wearing a mask, the travel environment presents a unique set of circumstances based on the number and close interaction of travelers (both vaccinated and unvaccinated),” stated the CDC.

Other cities and states lowered covid-19 restrictions this week in light of improving news.

Philadelphia ended its indoor mask order on Friday, as well as the closure of restaurant service at 11 p.m., according to a city statement.

“For nearly 15 months, the City of Philadelphia has had restrictions to protect itself, and I have no doubt that these restrictions saved countless lives,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “But Friday will be a day we’ve all been waiting for: get back to doing the things we love. Thanks to the more than two-thirds of adults who have already been vaccinated, we will finally be able to do the things we have missed doing over the last year. “

In New Hampshire, the coronavirus state of emergency decree is set to expire Friday night and Gov. Chris Sununu has said he will not renew it. Public health incident status will be maintained, Sununu said, allowing healthcare providers and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate more efforts against COVID-19.

“It’s about vaccination,” Sununu said at a briefing on Thursday. “We have a very high vaccination rate both with our health personnel and with the residents themselves, which is great and we will continue to promote it.”

–Deidre McPhillips, Maggie Fox, Lauren Mascarenhas and Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

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