NIH Director: Unvaccinated Americans ‘Sitting Ducks’ 

August 16, 2021 Topic: Health Region: Americas Blog Brand: Politics Tags: CoronavirusPandemicDelta VariantVaccinationVaccine

NIH Director: Unvaccinated Americans ‘Sitting Ducks’ 

America is currently witnessing nearly a hundred thirty thousand new cases per day, which is more than 700 percent higher compared to the beginning of July.


Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has sounded the alarm that the rapid rise of coronavirus cases largely due to the highly transmissible Delta variant could return the United States to the worst days of the year-and-a-half-long pandemic.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation is currently witnessing nearly a hundred thirty thousand new cases per day, which is more than 700 percent higher compared to the beginning of July.

“I will be surprised if we don’t cross two hundred thousand cases a day in the next couple of weeks, and that’s heartbreaking considering we never thought we’d be back in that space again," Collins said in an interview on Fox News Sunday

“That was January-February, that shouldn’t be August,” he continued. “But here we are with Delta variant, which is so contagious, and this heartbreaking situation where ninety million people are still unvaccinated who are sitting ducks for this virus and that’s the mess we’re in. We’re in a world of hurt and it’s a critical juncture to try to do everything we can to turn that around.”

Warning to Unvaccinated 

Collins doubled down on his advice that unvaccinated Americans should quickly get inoculated.  

“The big message right now this morning (is) for the people who aren't vaccinated, this is the moment to absolutely get off the fence and take care of this. . . .  It’s looking for you,” he warned.  

Collins added that face masks are “a life-saving medical device” and that “it’s really unfortunate that politics and polarization have gotten in the way of a simple public health measure.”  

Endemic Virus  

Meanwhile, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, recently told CNBC that he expects the coronavirus to become an endemic virus here in the United States after the Delta surge eventually subsides later this year.  

“We’re transitioning from this being a pandemic to being more of an endemic virus, at least here in the United States and probably other Western markets,” he said.  

“I think after we get through this Delta wave, this is going to become more of an endemic illness where you just see sort of a persistent infection through the winter . . . but not at the levels that we’re experiencing certainly right now, and it’s not necessarily dependent upon the booster shots,” he continued.  

Like Collins, Gottlieb noted that he believes that case counts will only get worse in the weeks ahead.  

“You’re going to see the Delta wave course through probably between late September through October,” he said. 

“Hopefully we’ll be on the other side of it or coming on the other side of it sometime in November, and we won’t see a big surge of infection after this on the other side of this Delta wave,” he added.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal StarAsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.  

Image: Reuters