The prevalence of a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 probably won’t prompt the United States to reenter lockdown, President Joe Biden said on June 18.
“I don’t think so, because so many people have already been vaccinated,” he said at the White House when asked about the possibility.
“But the Delta variant can cause more people to die in areas where people have not been vaccinated,” he said. “So, no, it’s not a lockdown, but some areas will be very hurt.”
The United States entered near-nationwide lockdown in the spring of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every state, as well as the federal government, has since rolled back restrictions, although some have kept rules in place despite the plunge in COVID-19 metrics such as average daily cases and patients in hospitals.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Health officials say the lockdowns helped keep people safe by spreading out infections over time and helped avoid hospital overloading, except in New York City. But some experts say the strategy had unintended consequences, including leading to skyrocketing unemployment, widespread business closures, and a rise in mental health issues.
Multiple variants of the virus have emerged over the course of the pandemic. Delta, which was first detected in India, is considered a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authorities claim the variant can lead to increased transmissibility of the virus, as well as a potential reduction in the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments and vaccination.
“It’s more transmissible than the Alpha variant, or the UK variant, that we have here [in the United States],” Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News in an interview on “Good Morning America.” “We saw that quickly become the dominant strain in a period of one or two months, and I anticipate that is going to be what happens with the Delta strain here.”
The existing COVID-19 vaccines haven’t been shown to have significantly diminished protection against variants, and authorities have mentioned the variants in their encouragement for getting a shot.
“Our vaccines work. Right now, they are working,” Walensky said, adding that being fully vaccinated will protect people against the new variant.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters in a recent briefing that the best way to prevent the variant from becoming the dominant strain is to get more people vaccinated.
Biden was in Washington to tout that 300 million doses of the vaccines have been administered in the United States across 150 days.
“It’s an important milestone that just didn’t happen on its own or by chance. It took the ingenuity of American scientists, the full capacity of American companies, and a whole-of-government response across federal, state, tribal, and local governments,” Biden said.
The “wartime response” led to the significant accomplishment, which includes 65 percent of American adults getting at least one shot, he said.
Two of the three vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States require two doses.
Former President Donald Trump weighed in on the matter on June 18, noting that his administration poured money into developing the vaccines and COVID-19 treatments.
“When Biden tries to claim credit for vaccine distribution, a distribution system that was set up by the Trump Administration, he should remember that if I didn’t purchase, very early on, billions of dollars worth of the vaccine, bottles, needles, and everything else that goes with it, he and his administration would not have been giving vaccinations until October or November of this year,” Trump said on Gab.
“Without the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed, millions of people would be dying all over the World that will now be saved.”
Biden also urged people to get vaccinated. He and other federal officials say that’s the best way to get protection against COVID-19, despite a growing body of research supporting the theory that people gain natural immunity when they recover from the disease.
“The data is clear: If you are unvaccinated, you’re at risk of getting seriously ill or dying or spreading it. People getting seriously ill and being hospitalized due to COVID-19 are those who have not been fully vaccinated. The new variant will leave unvaccinated people even more vulnerable than they are a month ago—over a month ago,” Biden said.
“This is a serious concern, especially because of what experts are calling the ‘Delta’ variant. It’s a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially deadlier, and particularly dangerous for young people. But the good news is, we have the solution. The science and the data are clear: The best way to protect yourself against these variants are to get fully vaccinated.”