70% vaccination goal may not do it; 90% may be needed
The nation's 70% vaccination goal, once touted as a level crucial to ending the pandemic, may not be nearly enough because of the extremely contagious delta variant, some health officials say.
“Now we need 85 to 90% vaccinated against delta,” said Dr. Eric Topol, vice president for research at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and a national expert on the use of data in medical research.
Tom McCarthy, the executive director of the Rhode Island Department of Health COVID Response Unit, says the delta variant's infection boom has been a game-changer in his region. New England is home to the five states with the highest percentage of a fully vaccinated population. Yet hospitalizations and deaths hover near pre-vaccination levels.
“What we’ve learned with delta and looking beyond delta, is ... to give you that true population-level protection, you need to be in excess of 90%,” McCarthy said.