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In most high-income nations, people are focused on their own country’s vaccination rates. This is a reasonable place to start since current outbreaks are driven by the unvaccinated.
Recent data from Los Angeles County showed that unvaccinated persons are five times more likely to become infected when exposed to SARS-CoV-2 than vaccinated persons, and 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. Studies from Scotland and elsewhere show unvaccinated persons also are more likely to spread SARS-CoV-2.
But vaccinating high numbers of people in high-income countries will not end the global pandemic — not even close. The delta variant, responsible for 99 percent of current U.S. COVID-19 cases, was first detected in India. The Alpha variant, previously responsible for most U.S. cases, was first recognized in the United Kingdom. Beta came from South Africa, and Gamma from Brazil and Japan. The global tour continues with variants on the horizon that are worrying scientists: Eta (U.K./Nigeria); Iota (U.S.); Kappa (India); Lambda (Peru); and Mu (Colombia). After these variants, there will be more, including ones that are highly transmissible and vaccine-resistant.