Members of Arizona State University’s COVID-19 computer modeling team, during a Thursday pandemic update, warned that the virus could soon become the leading cause of death in the state.
On average, around 12,000 Arizona residents annually die from heart disease, and a further 12,000 die of cancer, said Dr. Josh LaBaer, executive director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute, local outlet AZFamily reported.
However, as coronavirus-related deaths in the state move beyond 10,855, according to current data, COVID-19 could soon be the leading cause of death, LaBaer said.
"We are seeing an extraordinary number of new cases a day and that’s a pretty frightening position to be in", said LaBaer.
LaBaer warned that to slow the spread of the pandemic in the state to a significant degree and reduce coronavirus deaths, at least 50% of residents must receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I’m a little worried that everybody is seduced by the fact that there are vaccines starting to roll out. But keep in mind, the number of people getting vaccinated right now is tiny. We are vaccinating nowhere near the number of people that it would take to have an impact on the spread of the virus in our community right now", LaBaer said, citing that 80% of Arizonians will need to be given the jab to stop future coronavirus outbreaks.
The Arizona vaccine rollout has reflected the leisurely speed of vaccine introduction seen at the national level.
As of Wednesday, the United States has seen 23.2 million confirmed cases and over 380,000 deaths, according to data collated by the Johns Hopkins Institute.