As coronavirus cases wane, vaccine-lagging areas still see risk

New coronavirus cases are declining across most of the country, even in some states with vaccine-hesitant populations.

6/14/2021 2:48:00 AM

New coronavirus cases are declining across most of the country, even in some states with vaccine-hesitant populations.

New coronavirus cases are declining across most of the country, even in some states with vaccine-hesitant populations.

More CoverageMore than 7,300 Mississippians have died in the pandemic, and the state has the sixth-highest per-capita death rate.Dobbs estimated that about 60% of the state’s residents have “some underlying immunity.”“So we’re now sort of seeing that effect,” Dobbs said, “most likely because we have a combination of natural and vaccine-induced immunity.”

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Just eight states — Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Wyoming — have seen their seven-day rolling averages for infection rates rise from two weeks earlier, according to Johns Hopkins University data. All of them except Hawaii have recorded vaccination rates that are lower than the U.S. average of 43% fully vaccinated, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 10 states with the fewest new cases per capita over that time frame all have full-vaccination rates that are above the national average.Medical experts said a host of factors was playing into the drop in case counts across the country, including vaccines, natural immunity from exposure to the virus, warmer weather and people spending less time indoors.

But Dr. Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University, said she was concerned that the natural immunity of those who had been exposed to coronavirus might soon wane. And she’s worried that states with low vaccination rates could become hot spots.

Advertisement“Just because we’re lucky in June doesn’t mean we’ll continue to be lucky come the late fall and winter,” said Wen, the former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore. “We could well have variants here that are more transmissible, more virulent, and those who do not have immunity or have waning immunity could be susceptible once again.”

In Mississippi, about 835,000 people have been fully vaccinated, or 28% of the population. But despite the lagging vaccination rate, the state’s rolling average of daily new cases over the past two weeks has decreased by about 18%, according to Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Albert Ko, who chairs the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale, said there were no accurate data to show what percentage of the population in “high burden” states such as Alabama or Texas had been exposed to the virus, but he said estimates had put it as high as 50%.

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“I think it doesn’t deny the importance of vaccination,” Ko said, “particularly because the levels of antibodies that you get that are induced by natural infection are lower than that of what we have for our best vaccine.”AdvertisementKo said it was important that even those exposed to the disease be vaccinated because natural immunity did not last as long as vaccine immunity, and the levels of antibodies are lower.

Wen said research strongly suggested that vaccinations provided a benefit to those who already had some antibodies due to infection. Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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