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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreaks, Vaccination, Politics and Society: the Continuing Challenge ; : 341-355, 2022.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-2299304


The second year of the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic in the United States witnessed the widespread availability of effective vaccines and a new presidential administration promising a more coherent and science-based approach. Despite this, the US in 2021 also experienced a continued series of waves in infection and mortality, driven in part by the emergence of the more transmittable Delta and Omicron variants. As was the case in 2020, the magnitude of per-capita infection and mortality varied substantially between states in 2021. State vaccination rates also showed appreciable geographic variations and were significantly negatively correlated with infection rates and strongly so with death rates. Wave severity through 2021 differed somewhat across climatic zones, consistent with weather-induced behavioral changes influencing transmission. Political orientation appears to be an important factor contributing to geographic variations in the pandemic. In particular, the percentage of voters who supported the Republican presidential candidate in the 2020 election was strongly negatively correlated with states' vaccination rates and positively correlated with death rates. The political divide on vaccination contributes to interstate geographic differences in the outcomes of the pandemic and poses an ongoing challenge to combating COVID-19 in the United States. © TheEditor(s) (ifapplicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021, 2022.