As U.S. Leans On Vaccines To Contain Spread, COVID-19 Surges Elsewhere

California leads the U.S. in vaccinations, but Michigan and other states still seeing spikes from COVID-19 variants.
Posted at 3:08 PM, Apr 24, 2021

Mass vaccination efforts are continuing in the U.S. But experts say a return to normalcy still depends on more people being willing to get shots to ward off COVID-19. And elsewhere in the world, the picture remains dire, with the pandemic still surging.

Globally there have been more than 3 million deaths from the virus, with India among the hardest hit countries. Reported infections there are nearing 350,000 cases a day - with record deaths.

Hospital ICU beds, medicine, ventilators and morgue space are in short supply as the pandemic toll mounts there.

"Patients are having to share beds," Chandrika Bahadur said. "They are having to wait for hours for admissions and hospitals and it is truly a tragic crisis right now."

The U.S. - with 32 million cases - still leads the world in the number of diagnosed COVID-19 infections to date. More than 585,000 Americans have died. Brazil is second with more than 400,000 deaths. Vaccination rates there - as well as in India and numerous countries - lag far behind the U.S.

Officials say America is trying to help. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the CDC is working with its counterpart agency in India there to provide assistance for what he calls "a dire situation."

Meanwhile, the U.S. vaccine options have just gone back up. A CDC advisory panel recommended the country resume using Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, noting the benefits outweigh the risks of reports of rare blood clots out of millions of doses.

"The American public should understand that there is a risk, that it's an exceedingly rare risk, but that this is a common virus and a virus which has done a lot of harm that can be prevented by a vaccine," Dr. Paul Offit said.

One U.S. state that's been leading in administering vaccines is California. It now has the lowest case rate in the continental U.S. But states in the North and Northeast are still struggling with new infections.

Michigan is currently seeing a record-breaking number of children being hospitalized due to COVID-19. New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Minnesota are also reporting some distressing numbers in overall new infections - with new virus variants being blamed. 

And now Moderna is working on a booster shot to its two-shot vaccine in hopes of adding protection against the new virus mutations. So is Pfizer - with the company's CEO saying COVID-19 booster shots may need to be administered annually, just like the flu shot.