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‘For every unvaccinated Democrat, there are three unvaccinated Republicans’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Despite ample vaccine supply and government's approval of the Pfizer vaccine, millions of Americans have still displayed hesitancy in getting inoculated. (Photo by AFP)

COVID-19 is increasingly becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated and unimmunized. Despite massive outbreaks, millions of Americans who are eligible for jabs still choose not to get them.  

A year since federal regulators in the US gave emergency use authorization to coronavirus vaccines, roughly 60 million eligible individuals across the country remain unimmunized against the virus.

The reluctance to get vaccinated or immunized is driving the fresh wave of the pandemic in the world’s hardest-hit country, where total cases have reached 47.4 million besides over 767 thousand fatalities.

A poll conducted by the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which is collecting and analyzing data on COVID-19 vaccinations, has made a new revelation about the vaccine disparity in the US.

It says the widest divide in vaccination rates isn’t between the rich and poor Americans or old and young, it’s between Republicans or Republican-leaning independents and Democrats.

Republicans or Republican-leaning independents, the poll notes, tend to be three time more likely to be vaccine resistant than Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents.

“In April, 36 percent of the unvaccinated population were Democrats or leaners; now, 17 percent are. In April, 42 percent of the unvaccinated were Republican or Republican-leaning independents; now, 60 percent are,” a report in Washington Post said, citing the poll.

As the KFF analysis reveals, partisanship is about twice as strong a predictor of vaccination status as any other demographic characteristic in the US, with partisan split widening as other divides close.

The polling examined why Republicans might or might not choose to be vaccinated and found that Republicans believe that the seriousness of the threat posed by the virus is overstated.

More than half of vaccinated Republicans said the threat was overstated, while 9 in 10 unvaccinated Republicans echoed the same sentiment.

A research done in November suggested that resistant Americans can be coaxed by family and friends into being inoculated, while easy access to vaccine centers and addressing safety concerns can also overcome vaccine hesitancy.

But, it did not touch upon how the mindset, as in the case of Republicans, can undergo change.

New pandemic wave?

Importantly, over 70 thousand Americans have been infected daily for almost three weeks, and over 1,000 people are dying every day, which underlines the struggle with vaccine hesitancy in the country.

The number of infections are creeping to 80 thousand a day. According to Johns Hopkins University, a 14 percent rise in infections over the last week points to a possible winter coronavirus spike.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases public official in the US, taken aback by the new spike, Tuesday urged people to get immunized, while maintaining that roughly 60 million eligible individuals across the country remain unimmunized against the virus.

Fauci said cases stabilizing at that high a level were a sign that the nation had “really bad control” over the pandemic, while urging more vaccination.

“Always the primary thing is to get the unvaccinated vaccinated,” Fauci said in an interview on “The News with Shepard Smith”. “But for those who are eligible to be boosted, by all means, go and get boosted.”

Fauci’s comments came hours after he discussed the surge in cases affecting select regions in the US in an interview with the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Experts have suggested that in order for the country to reach a possible elusive threshold for protection against COVID-19, at least 90 percent of the total population would have to be fully vaccinated.

“I think if we can get well below 10,000, I think that would be a level that I think would be acceptable to us to get back to a degree of normality,” Fauci said. “But again, I have to warn the listeners, these are not definitive statements — these are just estimates.”

Different factors will determine when this threshold is met. The speed at which newly vaccinated people join the previously immune citizens is also a key factor to reaching this threshold.  

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