COVID-19 is still a threat and more vaccines are needed

The nation's coordinator says more action is needed now, before it is too late.

The Commonwealth of Virginia heads into this weekend after a week of 17,701 new cases of COVID-19 as the cases continue to climb in the Old Dominion.

Floyd County reported four new cases in Friday’s report by the Virginia Department of Health, a total of 13 since the Friday before.

Montgomery County-Radford reported nearly 100 cases last weekend and more than two hundred during the week that followed. Even more in the Roanoke Valley, where the total case count is closing in on 50,000

Deaths from the virus have topped 20,000 in Virginia and the Commonwealth if closing in on a total of two million cases.

Yes, the death rate has dropped, thanks to higher rates of vaccinations but people are still dying, even with all shots and treatment.

White House COID-19 coordinator Amish Jha says infections in America could reach 100 million this year and President Joe Biden ordered flags to half-staff to remember those who have died.

“As we get to the fall, we are all going to have a lot more vulnerability to a virus that has a lot more immune escape than even it does today and certainly than it did six months ago,” Jha said. “That leaves a lot of us vulnerable.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Jha predicted that the next generation of vaccines, which are likely to be targeted at the currently prevailing omicron strain, “are going to provide a much, much higher degree of protection against the virus that we will encounter in the fall and winter.” But he warned that the U.S. is at risk of losing its place in line to other countries if Congress doesn’t act in the next several weeks.

The wire service reports:

Jha said he’s been making the case to lawmakers for additional funding for weeks, calling it a “very pared down request” and “the bare minimum that we need to get through this fall and winter without large loss of life.”

The Food and Drug Administration is to meet in June to determine the specific strains of the virus that the fall vaccines will target, and Jha said it takes two to three months for manufacturers to develop them. Right now the U.S. has run out of federal COVID-19 response funding to place new orders of vaccines.

“If we had the resources we’d be there having those conversations today,” said Jha. “The window is really closing on us if we want to be in the front of the line.”

“I would say we’re really kind of at that deadline and waiting much longer just puts us further back of the line,” he added. “If we’re willing to be in the back of the line and get our vaccines in the spring, we have plenty of time. But then we’ll have missed the entire fall and winter. That’s not an acceptable outcome, I think, for the American people.”

In other words, the virus remains a major threat and the pandemic is far from over.