This week the country passed a hopeful milestone: There are now more Americans who have been vaccinated than have contracted COVID-19.
According to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker, 26.5 million people in the country have received one or two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. That surpasses the 26.3 million documented U.S. cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.
“It’s worth noting that today, for the first time, the data said that more people were vaccinated than were reported as newly diagnosed cases,” Paula Cannon, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, told Bloomberg. “That’s worth celebrating. I’m all for that win.”
Since a large number of people who contract the virus are asymptomatic, it’s hard to know exactly how many people have had COVID-19, but the numbers are still promising as the U.S. administers about 1.35 million doses a day. Currently about 1.8 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated and 7.8 percent have gotten their first dose.
According to Bloomberg, the U.S. has been distributing vaccines faster than any other country. Still, we’re still a long way from herd immunity. Public health officials say 70 to 85 percent of the public needs to be vaccinated or exposed to COVID-19 in order to reach that goal.
New iterations of the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc. are also expected to help increase distribution once they become FDA approved, however reports suggest they are less effective against more viral strains of the virus from the U.K., South Africa, Brazil, and elsewhere.
The New York Times reports that those who have already contracted the virus may only need one dose of the vaccine, which may also free up additional doses, but some researchers warn against creating a false sense of security given the mutating nature of the virus.
So while the horizon looks promising, the country is still grappling with the loss of more than 440,000 people who have died after contracting the virus.
“While these trends are encouraging, I want to stress that the numbers nationally are still high, and they’re as high as they’ve been at any point in the pandemic up to this point,” CDC deputy director Jay Butler said during a briefing on Friday that was hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “If this pandemic were a stock, we might be wanting to sell.”