When we were writing about COVID-19 last year at the height of the pandemic, we often put it this way: COVID-19 is a hunter and we, the human animal, are its prey.
In the summer of 2021, another way to think about it is this: COVID-19 is a microscopic version of the alien monsters in the popular sci-fi movies A Quiet Place or The Tomorrow War in which the aliens have invaded Earth and are seeking to exterminate the human race.
In both of those films, the humans have banded together to fight the aliens in order to avoid extinction.
In particular, the heroes in those movies do whatever they can to protect their families.
However, unlike in the movies, many of the humans on our planet, especially here in the United States, are not acting with the same degree of rationality and unity in fighting COVID-19.
Virus infections and hospitalizations are rising sharply across the United States thanks to the Delta variant, an updated version of the virus, that is both more transmissible and causes more serious disease.
However, as President Biden succinctly put it, the new surge in cases is occurring almost entirely among those who are not vaccinated.
More than 160 million Americans have received vaccinations, roughly half of the country. However, the vaccination rate varies widely depending upon the geographic region. In the Northeast and the West Coast, vaccination rates are in the range of 70 percent, compared to under 40 percent in large areas of the South and middle of the country.
Predictably, the increase in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are surging in those under-vaccinated areas. The numbers don’t lie. It was reported last week that the seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases across the country increased by 16%, but that 93% of those cases were among counties with low vaccination rates.
In states with high vaccination rates, new infections are occurring almost solely among the unvaccinated. In the state of Maryland, which has a high vaccination rate, 99% of new COVID cases are occurring in persons who are not vaccinated.
The Delta variant that is now prevalent in the U.S. and across the globe is more than twice as transmissible as the original version of COVID-19. Fortunately, all three of the vaccines being used in this country (Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J) are highly-effective against infection by the Delta variant.
In addition, we have more than enough of the vaccine to inoculate every American against this dreaded disease. America is the richest country in the world and we have used our wealth to encourage the development and production of vaccines and to purchase a supply sufficient to immunize every American.
The incredible success in developing successful vaccines has been the equivalent of a 21st century Manhattan Project, which was the scientific effort to develop the nuclear bomb that eventually ended World War II.
So why are so many of our fellow citizens hesitant to get the vaccine?
President Biden noted that misinformation — and outright disinformation — on social media platforms are killing people. He also should have added that disinformation campaigns on certain so-called mainstream news networks similarly are contributing to vaccine hesitancy.
If you are relying on your Facebook friends or some other on-line (or mainstream news network) to persuade you from getting the vaccine, then you are a victim of bad information that can harm you and your families. In short, the simple — but brutal — truth is this: If you and your loved ones are not vaccinated, it is inevitable that COVID-19 will find you, just like those science-fiction aliens in the movies. And just like the movies, for all too many of the unvaccinated, the outcome will be deadly.