By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – According to Johns Hopkins University, Tuesday marked 600,000 lives now taken due to COVID-19 in the United States. That is more than any other country.

Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Aileen Marty offers some perspective.

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“If you look at a population basis, per 100,000, there is no other thing that has caused as many deaths per year as COVID,” she says. “Not cancer. Not heart disease. Nowhere near influenza. Influenza is one-tenth of the cases and deaths that we get, even in the worst years of flu compared to COVID-19.”

Deaths were at their highest nationally in January, with more than 3,000 per day.

After the vaccine rollout, the death toll went down. Those numbers are now around 375 deaths per day.

This comes as COVID regulations are rolling back all across the country.

“The letting down of the guard is for people who are vaccinated, who have good strong immunity to protect them,” Dr. Marty explains.

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CBS News conducted a poll of more than 2,000 adults.  Of those surveyed:

  • 62% are fully or partially vaccinated
  • 9% are planning to get vaccinated
  • 11% are still deciding
  • 18% say they will not get the vaccine

According to that poll, those who do not want the vaccine say they believe it is still too untested or they say they do not trust the government.

Incentives to get vaccinated, like prizes or lotteries, largely would not change their minds.

“It’s extremely disruptive and can have long-term consequences,” Dr. Marty says about COVID. “In comparison, the vaccines are among the safest vaccines we’ve ever made.”

For those who have been vaccinated, you may have noticed an expiration date on the vaccine card. However, Dr. Marty says current research shows boosters should not be needed any time soon, so long as we can keep the virus from spreading too much.

“It looks like we’re still very well protected and probably will be for a long time,” she explains. “The real issue about a booster is whether or not a variant of concern emerges that is sufficiently nasty, as to be able to overcome to a significant degree the protection that we got from the vaccine.”

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From that survey, those who say they will not get the shot say are actually more comfortable going to large gatherings and going to crowded places like bars and restaurants than fully vaccinated people.

Karli Barnett