Apr 22, 2021 - Health

Coronavirus cases aren't budging — even after vaccinations doubled

Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. is pumping out coronavirus vaccines by the millions, but the coronavirus isn’t slowing down.

The big picture: This spring has seen a surge in vaccinations but almost no change in the coronavirus’ spread, leaving the U.S. with an outbreak that’s still too big.

Where it stands: In the last week of February, the U.S. was averaging 65,686 new coronavirus cases per day. Now, eight weeks later, we’re averaging 64,814 new cases per day.

  • And yet, over the same eight-week period, the U.S. has administered more than 65 million vaccine doses — roughly doubling the number of Americans who have gotten at least one shot.

Between the lines: You would think that doubling the number of vaccinated Americans would produce at least some decline in coronavirus’ spread. But that hasn’t happened.

  • More contagious variants of COVID-19 — particularly the variant first discovered in the U.K. — have become the dominant strains within the U.S. over the spring.
  • That would normally cause a big jump in new cases, while vaccinations would normally cause a big drop in new cases. The two may simply be canceling each other out, leaving the U.S.’ outbreak frozen at around 65,000 new cases per day.

Deaths have fallen significantly, to an average of about 700 per day, down from a peak of nearly 3,500 per day.

  • But 65,000 cases per day is still too many cases. It leaves the unvaccinated — a group that still includes a lot of vulnerable people — at risk of serious illness.
  • And it leaves the door open to more new variants, which could cause COVID-19 to stay with us for years, in varying degrees of severity.

Each week, Axios tracks the change in new infections in each state. We use a seven-day average to minimize the effects of day-to-day discrepancies in states’ reporting.

Go deeper