THE CORONAVIRUS is upending daily life in America once again. Cases have risen in all states over the past 14 days owing to the spread of the Delta variant. In Florida, where the rate of new infections is second highest, hospitals have more covid-19 patients than ever. Deaths have risen in 30 states over the past two weeks, typically in places with the lowest rates of fully vaccinated people. Although the country has met President Joe Biden’s target of giving at least one dose to 70% of its adult population, it did so a month late.
America is in danger of undoing the early progress of its vaccination programme. On March 1st, about ten weeks after mass vaccinations began, the country had given out 0.27 doses for every person aged 12 and over. That rate was surpassed by only five other countries, Israel and Britain among them. The steady progress of jabs, along with declining infection rates, prompted the CDC to recommend that masks no longer be required indoors for the fully vaccinated from May 13th. By Independence Day, on July 4th, Mr Biden announced that although covid-19 was not “vanquished” the country was nearing independence from the virus.
Mr Biden told his fellow Americans that getting vaccinated was “the most patriotic thing you can do”, but they appear not to be listening. Since the beginning of July vaccination rates in America have fallen markedly. The country has slipped down the global league table for vaccinations, to 28th on August 3rd. America has now given an average of 1.2 doses per person to its population aged 12 and over. But over the past 14 days it has administered on average 2.2 doses per 1,000 people per day, slower than the pace in 112 other countries. Granted, vaccination rates in most countries have slowed as more and more of their citizens are jabbed (see chart above). But neighbouring Canada—a country of similar wealth and geography—has already given 1.5 doses per person aged 12 and over, on average, and is still administering 8.4 per 1,000 people a day.