“It’s almost a competition to vaccinate people and it’s a surge that seems to want to intensify,” Fauci said, noting that Europe is at its peak as experts worry about the United States.
The United States is vaccinating people quickly, just over 33% of the population – more than 109 million people – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and all 50 states have committed to vaccinating all adults by April 19th.
But the rate at which vaccines get into the arms of Americans needs to increase steadily as a virus variant first identified in the UK that is notoriously more contagious and deadly is the most common strain in the U.S., Walensky said.
To fight the version, Fauci urged Americans to vaccinate themselves and stick to preventative measures.
“Hold on a little longer,” he said. “Now that I’ve said so many times, it’s not time to declare victory ahead of time.”
Cases are younger
Recent infections have been distorted toward younger people, a factor that Fauci can say is due in part to the fact that so many elderly people have been vaccinated.
Fauci noted that more than 75% of people 65 and older received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine in the United States.
He said a number of factors play a role, including day care groups and school sports teams – in which people are closely connected and sometimes don’t wear a mask – and version B.1.1.7.
“I think that explains this seizure of youth cases,” he said.
As cases point to younger Americans, many schools are expanding access to full personal learning. About three-quarters of U.S. public schools are open to full-time personal or hybrid learning.
39% of the nation’s 4th graders attend full-time personal school, and 29% of 8th graders, according to data released by the Ministry of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) on Wednesday.
Students returning to school are not yet eligible for vaccinations, although studies will hopefully show the effectiveness of vaccinations in the coming months for children as young as six months, Fauci said.
Until then, students under the age of 16 should continue to wear masks, avoiding close contact and avoiding indoor settings, Fauci said.
Risks and benefits of vaccination
As the U.S. competes to vaccinate people, experts and officials are struggling with side effects that are thought to be related to certain shots.
Operations were suspended at Dick Sporting Goods Park in Colorado on Wednesday after health officials reported that 11 people became ill who had been vaccinated.
These patients experienced symptoms such as nausea and dizziness and were carefully transported to the local hospital for observation, according to a Colorado State Joint Information Center press release.
While things may seem worrying, government officials said there was no reason to believe that people vaccinated at the center should be worried.
“The state has no reason to believe that the people who were vaccinated at Dick Sporting Goods Park today should be worried,” state officials said.
“To our knowledge, today’s side effects were in line with what can be expected,” Scott Bookman, COVID-19 incident commander, said in a press release. “Vaccination is much safer than severe COVID-19 disease.”
CNN Amanda Sealy, Ben Tinker, Lauren Mascarenhas, Betsy Klein, Elizabeth Stuart, Joe Sutton, Richard Greene and Schams Elwazer contributed to the report.