New York launched the largest tourism promotion campaign in the city’s history on Thursday (24), with the aim of once again attracting more than half of the 66.6 million visitors it received in 2019.
In addition to promoting its postcards, such as Times Square and the Statue of Liberty, the “It’s New York Time” campaign will sell a new attraction to audiences in other US states, Canada, Mexico and countries in America. Latin. : New Yorkers vaccinated.
Governor Andrew Cuomo last week announced the end of the state of emergency imposed at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The reopening of the city, symbolized by events like the Foo Fighters concert at Madison Square Garden with 15 000 fans, suggests a return to normality that can be called into question, both in New York and in the rest of the United States, by the now slower pace of vaccination and by the arrival of the delta variant, which could hit hard pockets of vaccine resistance.
As of the end of last week, 49% of New Yorkers were fully immunized and 70% had received at least the first dose of the vaccine – the national average is 66%. “This still does not create enough immunity in the population to cope with an epidemic of the delta variant,” explains Brazilian immunologist Gabriel Victora, professor at Rockefeller University. Across the country, there are still 140 million people over the age of 12 who are likely to be vaccinated who are not fully vaccinated.
The delta strain, the most contagious and first identified in India last December, is progressing so quickly that it is tending to become the dominant strain on all continents. One of its mutations, delta plus, has already been detected in the United States and nine other countries in Europe and Asia.
The UK seems to offer a glimpse of the scenario ahead for Americans. The British have a high rate of full vaccinations, 60.9% of the adult population, but over the past three weeks the dominance of the Delta has increased daily records of cases and hospitalizations. In the United States, so far, the mutation is responsible for 20% of cases, but its progression has doubled in two weeks.
New York reopened too soon? For immunologist Denise Garrett, of the Sabin Foundation (USA), one of the problems is to have removed the obligation to use masks in closed places for those who have been vaccinated. Now, the use of the object is at the discretion of the establishments and, although protections are mandatory in hospitals and public transport, it is common to find someone who disputes the order in the subways.
And there is also the absence of a vaccination control system in a country where the mere mention of the creation of a national vaccination passport causes horror among Republican governors.
The falsification of documents is also a real problem. During the worst period of the pandemic in the United States, there were cases of false negative Covid tests. Now, false vaccination certificates are becoming another obstacle to resuming activities. In early June, a merchant offered ten vouchers with the Center for Disease Control logo on Amazon’s website for $ 12.99.
Anti-vaccination groups, which were active before the pandemic and were responsible for measles outbreaks in the United States for the past decade, are encouraging the distribution of false documents.
Epidemiologists are starting to speculate on a pessimistic scenario where temperatures would drop again in September, at the start of the American school year. Garrett says he believes the population’s resistance to the restrictions will be great and that the shift in focus on simple measures, such as the use of masks, was premature, “when immunization coverage was still low.”
The good news, according to Victora of Rockefeller University, is that the two main vaccines administered in the United States, Pfizer and Moderna, have been shown to be effective in containing the delta. Scottish government data reported in the medical journal The Lancet, not yet peer reviewed, indicates that the effectiveness of the two doses of Pfizer vaccine is 79% for the variant. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Moderna’s drug had similar effectiveness against mutations.
However, the researcher points out that the more part of the population remains unprotected, the more the virus becomes creative in the development of mutations, creating new challenges for existing vaccinators. And the progress of the variants is not necessarily hampered by the closing of the borders.
Victora reports that the beta variant, first identified in South Africa, did not spread to New York as they feared. But the emergence of a local strain, iota, with similar characteristics was observed.
Vaccine application started slowly in the United States, with an average of 900,000 vaccines applied per day between December and January. Between March and April, the campaign surged, and 4.63 million doses were applied on April 10, according to the Our World in Data site.
After this peak, however, the total comes down, and this Thursday (24) 815 thousand doses were applied. Even so, since February 23, a month after Biden’s inauguration, in just 12 days the number of vaccines applied was less than 1 million, the lowest value being on June 2 (508.6 thousand). Vaccination rates are still high in some east and west coast states, such as New York and California, but remain low in the south and midwest, especially in poorer and rural areas.
President Joe Biden tweeted about the danger of the delta variant on Wednesday and traveled to North Carolina, where vaccinations are slowing and the vaccinated adult population has barely increased in more than a week – the state still counts 55% of adults immunized with the first dose. . Biden urged residents to trust the effectiveness of vaccines in stopping mutations.
If the general public’s mistrust and denial is hard to overcome, what about the New York health workers who have coped with the explosion that made the city one of the world’s foremost epicenters. infections and deaths in the pandemic? In early June, one of New York’s five largest private hospitals, the New York-Presbyterian, became the first medical group to announce a vaccine requirement for its employees, a measure that has started to be replicated in others. States.
The largest union of healthcare workers, with nearly half a million members on the US east coast and headquartered in New York City, has responded. He says he is going to court to guarantee the right of nurses, caregivers, laboratory technicians and other professionals to refuse the vaccine. If the delta variant takes root on this side of the Atlantic, it will not be for lack of reception.