COVID-19 increased deaths by 16% in 2020, vaccines likely protect against variants

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A new report from the CDC has listed COVID-19 as the third leading cause of death for Americans in 2020. Heart disease was the leading killer with 690,000 deaths. Cancer killed the second most at 598,000 Americans in 2020.

The CDC reported COVID-19 killed American Indian, American Native and Hispanic individuals at higher rates.

It prompted a 16-percent increase in deaths for 2020. This information comes new cases are once again starting to rise in the U.S.

“We can’t afford to let our guard down. We are so close so very close to getting back to the every day activities that we all miss so much but no, we are not quite there yet,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a White House COVID-19 response briefing.

States like North Carolina have started to relax restrictions and states like Texas have announced they are lifting their mask mandate. This, while variants threaten to slow the progress made since the holidays.

“It’s up to us. It’s up to all of us, to be part of this solution,” said Walensky.

The threat of variants

Walensky said the U.K. variant, the B.1.1.7, now accounts for a quarter of the country’s variants. It is 50 to 70 percent more transmissible.

“We do think that more infections will result because of B.1.1.7. We believe that the current mitigation strategies of masking and distancing would work just as well against the current, the wild type strain of the B.1.1.7 strain,” said Walensky.

While there is a concern about the ability of vaccines to protect against variants, Dr. Anthony Fauci also said Wednesday that more studies are showing vaccines do work against them.

“Vaccination is not only going to protect us against the wild type, but it has the potential, to a greater or lesser degree, to also protect against a range of variants. So, when vaccination becomes available, get vaccinated,” said Fauci.

During the same press briefing, Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to the White House COVID-19 Response Team reiterated the administration’s call to reinstate mask and keep mask mandates in place at this time.

“Together we can win this race and save lives. If we’re acting on our own we lose even more people. If we’re acting together, we can defeat this.,” Slavitt said.

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