The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, on Sunday said the current coronavirus surge, which is being driven by the highly transmissible delta variant, may be "the tipping point" for unvaccinated holdouts.
Host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - DC prepares for Saturday of festivals & Jan. 6 demonstration Overnight Health Care — Nicki Minaj stokes uproar over vaccines Fauci responds to Nicki Minaj's vaccine worries MORE asked Collins on CNN's "State of the Union" what he feared would happen if unvaccinated people do not get immunized against COVID-19.
"Cases have gone up about fourfold in the last couple of weeks. We're pushing up toward 100,000 cases a day now, and particularly so in those hotspots where vaccination rates are still quite low, maybe 30 percent. That would be Missouri and Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida. And those are areas of deep concern," Collins said.
However, Collins noted that vaccination rates have also risen around the country, increasing by 56 percent in the past two weeks.
"So, I think maybe I'm trying to look on the bright side of this. What's the silver lining of this is that people are waking up to this. And this may be a tipping point for those who have been hesitant to say, 'OK, it's time,' " Collins said.
"I hope that's what's happening," he added. "That's what desperately needs to happen if we're going to get this delta variant put back in its place, because, right now, it's having a pretty big party in the middle of the country."
According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69.7 percent of eligible adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Approximately half of the total U.S. population -- 49.5 percent -- is fully vaccinated.