The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Variant exploding in U.K. accounts for 6 percent of U.S. infections, White House says

The number of covid-related deaths in the United States has fallen sharply since coronavirus vaccinations took off. (Emily Elconin/Bloomberg News)
Placeholder while article actions load

The highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in India now accounts for 6 percent of infections in the United States, the Biden administration said Tuesday, but vaccines appear to be highly effective against the version that has quickly spread in Britain and beyond.

Anthony S. Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said the variant was “taking over” in Britain. “We cannot let that happen in the United States, which is such a powerful argument” for vaccination, he said.

Vaccinations are tapering off in the United States, with the nationwide average of daily shots dropping below 1 million last week. Cities, states and private organizations are offering an array of incentives to boost the numbers — including a free cannabis campaign promoted by Washington state.

Here are some significant developments:

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is weighing whether to fully reopen society as the new and highly infectious variant surges. British scientists say B.1.617.2, originally discovered in India and known now as the delta variant, is exploding.
  • World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called on vaccine manufacturers to give half their doses to Covax, the initiative to distribute them equitably, as part of a push to inoculate 30 percent of the world’s population by Dec. 31.
  • Millions of unused doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States are set to expire this month. With vaccination rates plummeting, states are racing to use the doses before they must throw them away.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is refusing to allow cruise ship operators to require proof of passenger vaccinations, a move that reflects a growing willingness by Republicans to demonize and defy corporations that have been among the party’s closest allies.
  • The State Department is easing travel advisories for dozens of countries, moving nations like Canada, France and Japan from Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”) to Level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”).
  • The United States reported a seven-day rolling average of 15,589 new infections on Monday, down nearly 15 percent from the previous week. The number of hospitalizations, deaths and tests continued to fall.

Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | Vaccine tracker