(CBS) – The number of deaths due to COVID-19 has topped 3 million worldwide, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. More than 566,000 of those deaths have been in the United States, which is now seeing a rise in coronavirus cases despite efforts to get people vaccinated.
About 40 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly a quarter of those are fully vaccinated.
But as Tom Hanson reports for “CBS This Morning: Saturday,” new variants of the virus are fueling the latest surge in cases.
“The good news is vaccine rollout is moving along at a great pace,” Dr. David Ho of Columbia University said. “The bad news is that the variants are emerging everywhere.”
Ho has his eye on yet another variant, identified in his Columbia University lab in New York City.
“It’s concerning because it’s spreading at a rate that is on par with the U.K. variant and we know the U.K. variant is more transmissible and more lethal,” Ho said.
More deaths have been reported in the United States than in any other country. Globally, the number of deaths since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, over a year ago is more than the population of Chicago and equivalent to Dallas and Philadelphia, combined. It is roughly equal to Kyiv, Ukraine’s population, and metropolitan Lisbon, the Associated Press reported.
Success in controlling the virus varies vastly depending on the country, and places like India and Brazil are seeing a worsening crisis.
In the U.S., the hunt for variants caused by mutations in the coronavirus is on from coast to coast.
“We clearly are in the danger zone,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Vaccine makers are preparing for booster shots to combat the variants — at least the ones that are known.
“Ongoing already are clinical trials looking at a boost of the original wow type virus vaccine as well as a boost with a variant specific,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
The Biden administration is behind the push, announcing on Friday $1.7 billion will be spent on detection of variants.
At the same time, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, only available since March, remains on hold while a handful of cases of blood clots are investigated to see if that vaccine caused the complications.
A CDC advisory committee is scheduled to meet next week to report on continued use.