COVID-19 variants could lead to a fall surge in U.S. cases after months of decline, if more people don’t get vaccinated.
That’s the warning in a recent briefing from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which has published an influential virus model throughout the pandemic. The briefing also says vaccines will need to effectively fight the variants for the U.S. to escape a seasonal surge in the fall.
“Cases and deaths should remain low until mid-September. At that point, we expect … increasing transmission,” the model says.
The model projects about 67% of U.S. adults are likely to be vaccinated — the same number USA TODAY is predicting could be at least partially vaccinated by July 4 at the current pace.
Globally, the World Health Organization warned that the Group of Seven promise of 1 billion vaccine doses was good news but “we need more, and we need them faster.”
Also in the news:
► A recently discovered note marked the “apocalyptic, surreal” moment a pilot parked a jet in storage at the beginning of the pandemic. The “time capsule” is serving as a reminder of how much has changed in the past year.
►Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro was hit with a fine for failure to wear a mask in violation of local pandemic restrictions when he led thousands of motorcyclist supporters through the streets of Sao Paulo on Saturday.
► Starting June 15, Walt Disney World will no longer require guests who have been fully vaccinated to wear face masks in most areas. All guests, however, must continue to wear their masks while on Disney transportation, including Disney buses, monorails and the Disney Skyliner aerial gondolas.
► Last year, about 19.5 million kids missed out on the fun of summer camp because of the pandemic. This year, even though most camps are set to reopen, COVID-19 restrictions and a pandemic-induced labor shortage will keep numbers well below a normal threshold of about 26 million summer campers, said Tom Rosenberg of the American Camp Association.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has more than 33.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 599,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: over 175 million cases and over 3.7 million deaths. More than 143 million Americans have been fully vaccinated – 43.1% of the population, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Scientists say biology tells us why it has been so much easier to vaccinate against COVID-19 when other medical problems remain intractable.
WHO says vaccine donations aren’t enough
The head of the World Health Organization has welcomed the vaccine-sharing announcements coming out of the Group of Seven summit but says “we need more, and we need them faster.”
“The challenge, I said to the G-7 leaders, was that to truly end the pandemic, our goal must be to vaccinate at least 70% of the world’s population by the time the G-7 meets again in Germany next year,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Saturday at the summit in southwest England.
“To do that, we need 11 billion doses,” Tedros said, adding that it was “essential” for countries to temporarily waive intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the summit’s host, has said the group would pledge at least 1 billion doses, with half that number coming from the United States and 100 million from Britain over the next year.
Tedros reiterated his target of vaccinating 30% of the population of every country by the end of 2021. He said that reaching the goal requires 100 million doses in June and July, and 250 million more by September.
TSA screens more than 2 million for the first time since pandemic began
The Transportation Security Administration on Friday screened more than 2 million people for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, a major milestone for the travel industry. The agency screened 2,028,961 people that day, about four times the number screened on the same day in 2020 and 74% of the travel volume in 2019. Before the pandemic, the TSA screened 2 million to 2.5 million people per day on average.
The number is a strong signal for the return of travel this summer, which has been one of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic. Experts expect a healthy amount of leisure travel this summer as vaccination rates continue to climb in the U.S. and pent-up demand pushes Americans to book trips.
“The growing number of travelers demonstrates this country’s resilience and the high level of confidence in COVID-19 counter measures, to include ready access to vaccines,” TSA acting administrator Darby LaJoye said in a Saturday news release. “TSA stands ready to provide a safe and secure screening process as part of the overall travel experience.”
The lowest pandemic-era screening volume at the TSA was on April 13, 2020, when 87,534 people were screened.
Contributing: The Associated Press