Dr. Peter Hotez warned that southern US states could feel the effects of the highly transmissible Delta-Covid variant as early as this summer, in part due to low vaccination rates.
“I’m really holding my breath about the south and what’s happening this summer,” said Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital.
“Here in the south, especially in Louisiana, Mississippi, we are seeing really low vaccination rates. And in many of these southern states, less than 10% of teenagers are vaccinated, so we have a real vulnerability here, ”said Hotez.
A new study in the UK found that Pfizer’s vaccine was 88% effective against the Delta variant, first discovered in India.
Vaccination rates vary across the US: More than 50% of the population in many northeastern states are now fully vaccinated, compared with only about 30% of the population in many southeastern states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Tuesday, White House senior medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, on the importance of vaccines in protecting against the Delta variant, which he believes is responsible for more than 6% of US coronavirus infections that scientists have genetically sequenced.
Hotez told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” that despite CDC warnings about an unexpectedly high number of cases of heart infections in 16- to 24-year-olds, he is still recommending Covid vaccinations for teenagers.
“I’m pretty confident that the possibility of severe Covid-19 from this new Delta variant is a much bigger problem, so I strongly recommend teenagers get their two doses of the vaccine,” said Hotez.