A year ago, the largest vaccination campaign in American history began in an otherwise gloomy December excitement. Trucks filled with small vials of COVID-19 vaccine in frozen packages have achieved great success in clinical trials and spread out on land, bringing with them the vaccine that many people hope will end the crisis.
That didn’t happen. One year later, there are still too many Americans who have not been vaccinated and too many people have died.
As the anniversary of the introduction of the vaccine in the United States approaches, the country’s COVID-19 death toll is approximately 800,000. A year ago, it was 300,000. Vaccination has saved countless lives, perhaps tens of thousands. However, the moments when scientific achievements could have been celebrated were full of disharmony and mourning.
Francis Collins, president of the National Institutes of Health, said that scientists and health officials may have underestimated the spread of misinformation that could hinder the “amazing achievements” of vaccines.
“Deaths continue…Most of them are not vaccinated, most of them are not vaccinated because someone provided them with absolutely wrong and dangerous information somewhere,” Collins said.
These vaccines have been developed and launched at an extremely rapid rate, have been proven to be very safe, and are very effective in preventing deaths and hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that, based on the data available in September, people who were not vaccinated had a 14 times higher risk of death than people who were fully vaccinated.
Their effectiveness has been largely maintained, allowing schools to reopen, restaurants welcoming diners and family gatherings and holidays. According to the latest statistics, 95% of Americans 65 and older have had at least one injection.
“In terms of scientific, public health and logistical achievements, this is the same category as sending people to the moon,” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. .
The first year of the vaccine has been difficult due to disappointment over the breakthrough infection, political conflict over authorization, and now concerns about whether the mutant omicron will evade protection.
Nonetheless, Dowdy said, “We look back and say that vaccines are a huge success story.”
On December 14, 2020, the day an eager country began to roll up its sleeves, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States reached 300,000. The death toll averages more than 2,500 a day, and it is rising rapidly, worse than what the country witnessed during the distressing spring of 2020, when New York City was the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.
By late February, the total number of deaths in the United States had exceeded 500,000, but the daily death toll began to decline from the terrible height in early January. As hopes rose in early March, some states began to reopen, removing regulations on wearing masks and restrictions on indoor dining. In an interview with Fox News, former President Donald Trump assured his supporters that the vaccine is safe and urged them to get vaccinated.
But by June, as the threat of COVID-19 seemed to fade, and demand for vaccines declined, states and companies have turned to incentives to try to restore people’s interest in vaccination.
Too little, too late. Delta is a highly infectious mutated coronavirus. It arrived silently and began to spread rapidly, and a large number of unvaccinated victims were found.
Andrew Noymer, a professor of public health at the University of California, Irvine, said: “You have to be nearly perfect almost all the time to defeat this virus.” “Vaccines alone will not cause a pandemic to return to the planet.”
One of the missed opportunities for the COVID-19 pandemic is that many Americans avoid vaccination.
This fall, 45-year-old Rachel McKibbens lost his father and brother due to COVID-19. Both refused the protection of vaccination because they believed in false conspiracy theories that vaccines contained poison.
“The embarrassment of the tragedy,” Mikes said. “It doesn’t have to be like this.”
Since April 19, the date when all American adults are eligible for vaccination, more than 228,500 Americans have died of COVID-19. According to an analysis by the Associated Press, this has accounted for approximately 29% of the total since the first coronavirus death in the United States was recorded in February 2020.
Since that day, Florida and Texas have caused more than 52,000 deaths in total. Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Wyoming, and Idaho also experienced large numbers of deaths after mid-April.
Since then, red states are more likely to have higher-than-average deaths than blue states.
“I think the United States is in a concentration camp,” Neumer said. “Vaccines have become a touchstone of trust in the government.”
Wyoming and West Virginia are the states with the highest votes for Donald Trump in 2016. Since these states announced that all adults are eligible for vaccination, COVID-19 deaths in these states accounted for approximately 50% of the total deaths. . In Oklahoma, nearly 60% of COVID-19 deaths occur after all adults are eligible for vaccination.
There are exceptions: It’s worth noting that Hawaii and Oregon are the only states that support Joe Biden, where more than half of COVID-19 deaths occurred after opening shootings to all adults. North Dakota and South Dakota — the two enthusiastic Trump states — have kept their death rates below 25% after the vaccine is fully available.
Since the state opened up eligibility to all adults in mid-April, more than 15,000 people in California have died of COVID-19. McKibbens’ father and brother died in their common home in Santa Ana, California.
McKibbens pieced together what happened from the text messages on her brother’s phone. Some of the texts she read after his death, including messages back and forth with a cousin, he listed TikTok as a source of bad advice.
Mike Basics, who lives across the country in Rochester, New York, said, “My brother didn’t seek medical treatment for my father,” and let him lie on his back, even though his breathing started to sound like a broken motor.
Her father, Pete Camacho, died on October 22 at the age of 67. Michaels flew to California to help arrange.
Her brother was also ill, but “he refused to let me in because he said I was vaccinated, so I was infected with the coronavirus,” Messier recalled. “This is a strange new belief I have never heard of before.”
A friend found her brother’s body after noticing the delivery of untouched food on the porch. Peter Camacho, named after his father, died on November 8 at the age of 44.
“For me, losing two-thirds of my family will only shock you,” Mikes said.
For some people, the important advice came too late. Tamara Alves Rodriguez, who is seven months pregnant and has not been vaccinated, tested positive for the coronavirus on August 9. Two days later, because many pregnant women were seriously ill, US health officials stepped up guidance and urged all expectant mothers to get vaccinated.
Rodriguez tried to get the vaccine a few weeks ago, but was told in the pharmacy that she needed a doctor’s authorization. “She never came back,” said her sister, Tanya Alves of Weston, Florida.
Six days after testing positive, Rodríguez had to insert a breathing tube into her throat at a hospital near her home in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her baby girl was delivered by emergency caesarean section on August 16.
The young mother never hugged her baby. Rodriguez died on October 30 at the age of 24. She left behind her husband, two other children and a large family.
“Her kids keep asking her,” Alves said. “I really feel that a part of myself is torn off, even these words are not enough to describe it.”
She urged others to get vaccinated: “If you know the fear of being hospitalized or having loved ones there… if people know, they will be afraid of this, not the vaccine.”