Via Teleconference Washington D.C. July 1 1:36 P.M. EDT
Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us. Today, we're joined by Doctors Fauci and Walensky, who I'll turn to in a few minutes.
First, I want to report on the progress we are making to end the COVID-19 pandemic here at home and around the world.
Here at home, going into the 4th of July holiday weekend, Americans have good reason to celebrate. Thanks to the President's whole-of-government response and the American people stepping up, more than 180 million Americans, including 67 percent of adults — two out of three adult Americans — have now received at least one shot.
In cases or death — deaths are down by more than 90 percent since January 20th. As a result, we have exceeded our expectations for where we would be on July 4th. And we're in a strong position to build on this progress going forward.
This weekend, millions of Americans will be able to get together — back together, not just with their families and close friends for small backyard cookouts, but with their community for larger festivals, parades, and fireworks, celebrating our country's July 4th Independence Day and the progress we have made against the virus together.
We will celebrate this progress on July 4th. But, of course, our work does not stop — because as the President has said, our work to vaccinate the millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus continues across the summer months. And our resolve to reach those who have not yet gotten their shot is only strengthened because of the spread of the Delta variant.
As we push to get more Americans vaccinated, we will also continue mobilizing and leading the effort to vaccinate the world. Earlier this year, the President committed that the United States will be an arsenal of vaccines for the world.
Through historic announcements and actions, we are delivering on the President's commitment. Over the past several weeks, the President has committed to sharing 580 million doses of vaccine to the world, including a half billion doses of Pfizer vaccine that the United States will purchase and donate to 100 countries in need.
This is by far the largest-ever donation of COVID-19 vaccines by a single country. And this historic announcement builds on the prior commitment we made to share 80 million doses of our own surplus U.S. vaccine.
These 80 million doses have all been shared with 46 countries, the African Union, and CARICOM through a combination of bilateral sharing and sharing through COVAX.
Each country has now received a specific number and type of U.S. vaccines they will be shipped. By the end of this week, we will have shipped out about 40 million doses, including doses to the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Honduras, Colombia, Pakistan, Peru, Ecuador, Malaysia, and Bangladesh.
The remaining doses will be shipped in the coming weeks as countries complete their own domestic set of operational, regulatory, and legal processes that are specific to each country. These U.S. doses will boost vaccination efforts in these countries and save lives.
And just as our work to vaccinate Americans does not stop on July 4th, our work to help vaccinate the world does not stop at these 80 million doses. We will continue to share tens of millions more U.S. doses over the summer months as we help lead the fight to end the pandemic across the globe.
In a few minutes, I will discuss how the Biden administration is mobilizing to support states and communities experienced increasing cases of the Delta variant.
But first, let me turn to Dr. Walensky to provide us an update on the state of the pandemic, including the Delta variant, and then Dr. Fauci to discuss the essential role our vaccines are playing in curbing its spread, including the spread of the Delta variant.
With that, over to you Dr. Walensky.
Thank you, Jeff. Good afternoon. Let's begin with an overview of the data. Yesterday, CDC reported 14,875 new cases of COVID-19. Our seven-day average is about 12,600 cases per day. And while this is a 95 percent decrease, lower from our peak in early January, it does also reflect a 10 percent increase in the seven-day average from last week. The seven-day average of hospital admissions is about 1,822 per day, a decrease of about 1 percent from the prior seven-day period. And the seven-day average of daily deaths was about 257.
Looking across the country, we have made incredible progress towards ending the pandemic. We continue to see overall low numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. However, looking state by state and county by county, it is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable. This is all true as we monitor the continued spread of the hyper-transmissible Delta variant.
The Delta variant is predicted to be the second most prevalent variant in the United States, and I expect that in the coming weeks it will eclipse the alpha variant. An estimated 25 percent of all reported SARS-CoV-2 sequences nationwide are the Delta variant. And in some regions of the country, nearly one in two sequences is the Delta variant.
There are communities that are vulnerable and where we are now seeing surges in cases, and indeed also hospitalizations, due to what could be the spread of the Delta variant and low vaccination rates in these communities.
Currently, approximately 1,000 counties in the United States have vaccination coverage of less than 30 percent. These communities, primarily in the Southeast and Midwest, are our most vulnerable. In some of these areas, we are already seeing increasing rates of disease. As the Delta variant continues to spread across the country, we expect to see increased transmissions in these communities, unless we can vaccinate more people now.
As you will hear from Dr. Fauci shortly, our authorized vaccines provide protection against the circulating variants in this country, including Delta. Vaccination is how we protect these individuals, families, and communities, and prevent severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19.
Preliminary data from a collection of states over the last six months suggest 99.5 percent of deaths from COVID-19 in these states have occurred in unvaccinated people.
Any suffering or death from COVID-19 is tragic. With vaccines available across the country, the suffering and loss we are now seeing is nearly entirely avoidable. COVID-19 [vaccines] are available and free for everyone aged 12 and up, and I encourage everyone who has not been vaccinated, especially those in these vulnerable communities with low vaccine coverage, to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.
As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, I want to remind those who remain unvaccinated to protect themselves by wearing a mask and avoiding crowds to prevent transmission and illness. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please get tested. And, of course, please get vaccinated in one of the many places near you as soon as you can.
Please enjoy a safe family- and friend-filled holiday weekend. Thank you.
I'll now turn things over to Dr. Fauci.
Thank you very much, Dr. Walensky. What I'd like to do over the next couple of minutes is to address the issue of the role of the COVID-19 vaccines that we have available to us and their ability to protect against the Delta variant.
If I could have the first slide.
It is simple — simplified to think about it in three separate buckets: What is the protection against infection, against symptomatic disease, or against hospitalization? And we have data for all three.
First, in a study published online on June 14, from Scotland, it was shown that the mRNA vaccine had about an 80 percent effectiveness against PCR-confirmed infection. In this situation, two doses of AZ was about 60 percent effective.
Next, with regard — next slide — to symptomatic disease: Again, in this study, in medRxiv, published on May 21st — 24th — two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, again, 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant.
Next, what about hospitalization? Again, from Public Health England, from June 14, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was 96 percent effective against hospitalization from the Delta variant after two doses, and the AZ was 92 percent effective against hospitalization after two doses.
The question then obviously arises: The direct data we have are from AZ and the mRNA vaccines; what about J&J? A question often asked. There's indirect evidence for effectiveness of J&J against the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. And the reason is that the effectiveness of this vaccine is similar to a vaccine for which we do have data, namely the AZ — the data that I just showed you.
Since these vaccines — the AZ and the J&J — are based on very similar platforms, one could anticipate and make a reasonable assumption that the results against the Delta variant would be at least similar, perhaps even better. We are now looking at neutralization data, and soon we will have more firm data which we will we make available to you as soon as it occurs.
Another question commonly asked: Is the WHO concerned about the Delta variant — has urged vaccinated people to keep wearing masks? There's a reason for that. The WHO is responsible for the planet as a whole. It's different in the world in general, from here in the United States.
As shown here, if you look at the share of the population fully vaccinated in the United States and worldwide, they're dramatically different, as is the dynamics of infection. And as we've always said, you can make general guidelines, but you also have to be flexible enough at various levels — be it a country level, or within a country at local levels.
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