The COVID-19 Vaccine Just Hit This Big Milestone

Here's a real sign of hope regarding COVID-19. As of February 1, the number of people in the United States who have gotten a COVID-19 vaccination is greater than the number who have tested positive for coronavirus. Bloomberg reports that 26.5 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccines currently available, and according to research from Johns Hopkins University, 26.3 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The U.S. has rapidly increased the rate of vaccinations as well, with some 1.34 million shots administered every day. According to Bloomberg, that's a faster pace than any other country. More good news: According to Jay Butler, the CDC's deputy director for infectious diseases, the number of new cases and hospitalizations are also on the way down.

Ideally, we will reach herd immunity, which, according to the World Health Organization, occurs when a population becomes immune to an infectious disease either through receiving a vaccine or developing immunity from already having the disease. As stated by the World Health Organization, achieving this goal through vaccinations would mean fewer unnecessary cases and deaths.

COVID-19 vaccinations can help prevent new variants

A new worry is the development of new strains of COVID-19. As reported by the BBC, a new strain of the virus that first appeared in the United Kingdom has developed a "worrying" new mutation. This mutation, called E484K, has also been seen in South Africa and Brazil and a few cases have been identified in the U.S. What makes this mutation so worrisome is that it seems to be unaffected by the antibodies developed by people who have already had COVID-19 (via New York Post). That means it would be more difficult to treat with current antibody and plasma regimens.

These new strains require booster shots that, as of right now, only focus on one mutation at a time. Dr. Anthony Fauci said his "ultimate solution" would be a universal vaccine that protects against any and all mutations of the virus (via Portland Press Herald). As reported by the Press Herald, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated that this would be a "much longer range project," one he says is "just getting started." But he believes that manufacturers could have boosters for current variants to the public within months. 

According to Dr. Fauci, the best thing you can do to protect yourself against current and future strains of coronavirus is to get a vaccine. The more people who are vaccinated, says Dr. Fauci, the less chance the virus has to mutate (via Portland Press Herald).