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The Delta variant of COVID-19 has taken hold in countries around the world, even as vaccination rates have been increasing. The Delta variant originated in India and has since become the dominant variant of COVID in many countries. There has been concern over how effective the current vaccines are at stopping the Delta variant. Early research suggests that the vaccines are only slightly less effective at limiting the damage caused by the Delta variant. However, the main concern is that the Delta variant is much more contagious which is leading to a much faster spread of COVID. 

There was hope at the beginning of 2021 that countries which had started mass vaccination programs would be relatively COVID free and back to normal once the vaccinations hit a critical mass. However, this has not come to pass. While countries were able to start vaccinating at an incredible speed in the beginning, the reality for most countries is that the vaccinations have slowed down or stalled completely. Israel, one of the vaccine leaders at the start of the vaccination race, took only 100 days to reach a vaccination rate of 55%. Despite this positive start, it took another 104 days to hit a 60% vaccination rate as the vaccinations slowed to a comparative crawl. This phenomenon has been observed in many countries. Vaccinations started quickly with people who have pre-existing conditions, medical workers, elderly people and those who wanted to get the vaccines rushing to get vaccinated while the rest of the populace lagged behind. 

Governments are now faced with the difficulty of trying to convince the rest of their populations to get vaccinated. For many regularly given vaccines such as measles, chickenpox and mumps, a vaccination rate of around 90-95% of the population is necessary in order to achieve herd immunity. This is where everyone is considered protected, even those who cannot get vaccinated due to a medical condition or young age. With COVID-19, it is believed that we need to achieve a vaccination rate of around 80-88% in order to effectively stop the spread of the virus. As it stands, only 29 countries have achieved vaccination rates of over 60%. 137 countries have vaccination rates below 20% and 87 countries have vaccination rates between 20-59%. 

The slowdown in vaccinations is a major concern as the Delta variant spreads quickly through the unvaccinated population. In the US, 99% of COVID related hospitalisations have been unvaccinated. The virus is currently running rampant through the unvaccinated populations of many countries as vaccination rates struggle to reach the necessary numbers to slow the spread. The biggest concern now is that more variants will mutate as the virus spreads through the unvaccinated population and that these variants could evolve to the point where the current vaccines are no longer effective.

This situation has caused some countries to begin mandating vaccines in order to continue with daily life. France was one of the first countries to do this. The French government announced that being fully vaccinated would be required for almost all places in the country. Shopping malls, bars, restaurants, cinemas and sporting events are just some of the places that now require people to be fully vaccinated. Without being vaccinated, people are no longer allowed to go to any of those places. The announcement led to an immediate surge of vaccination appointments in France. 1 million people booked appointments for their first dose on the day the announcement was made, consequently crashing the vaccination website. In the month since the announcement was made, the number of people who are fully vaccinated has jumped by 20% and there has been a 14% increase in the number of people who have received their first dose. Nonetheless, governments around the world are reluctant to introduce the kind of measures that the French government has, even as the vaccination rate continues to slow down.

Difficult words

Mass (n): A large number of something.

Stall (v): To stop making progress.

Crawl (n/v): Moving at an unusually slow pace.

Populace (n): The people living in a particular country or area.

Herd (n/v): A large group of animals or people.

Immunity (n): Being resistant to infection.

Rampant (adj): Spreading uncontrollably.

Mandating (v): Require to be done, make mandatory.

Surge (n/v): A sudden large increase.

Activities

For listening practice, listen to the recorded article here:

American English Audio:

Match the Synonym!

1. MassA. Stop
2. StallB. Infection resistance.
3. CrawlC. People in a place.
4. PopulaceD. Increase
5. HerdE. Uncontrolled
6. ImmunityF. Large amount.
7. RampantG. Mandatory
8. MandatingH. Group
9. SurgeI. Move slowly.

True or False?

1. The Delta variant originated in North America. T / F

2. The Delta variant is not the dominant strain of COVID in most countries yet. T / F

3. Vaccines are only slightly less effective against the Delta variant. T / F

4. It took Isreal less than 6 months to reach a vaccination rate of 55%. T / F

5. Vaccinations in most countries has slowed dramatically. T / F

6. It has been easy for most countries to convince people to get vaccinated. T / F

7. More than 30 countries have reached a vaccination rate of 90%. T / F

8. In the US, the majority of COVID hospitalisations have been unvaccinated people. T / F

9.Unvaccinated people can easily go to restaurants in France. T / F

10. The French government is against making strict rules for vaccinations. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. and / India / the / since / has / variant / variant / The Delta / dominant / become / in / originated

2. observed / many / been / phenomenon / has / in / This / countries

3. have / only / stands, / rates / As / over / vaccination / of / 60% / it / 29 countries / achieved

4. the / virus / running / currently / The / unvaccinated / rampant / populations / through / is

5. caused / begin / This / situation / vaccines / some / to / has / countries / mandating

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English Audio:

ImmediateRelativelyContagious
SlowdownOriginatedEvolve
ConvinceAnnouncedElderly

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has taken hold in countries around the world, even as vaccination rates have been increasing. The Delta variant (1)_____________ in India and has since become the dominant variant of COVID in many countries. There has been concern over how effective the current vaccines are at stopping the Delta variant. Early research suggests that the vaccines are only slightly less effective at limiting the damage caused by the Delta variant. However, the main concern is that the Delta variant is much more (2)_____________ which is leading to a much faster spread of COVID. 

There was hope at the beginning of 2021 that countries which had started mass vaccination programs would be (3)______________ COVID free and back to normal once the vaccinations hit a critical mass. However, this has not come to pass. While countries were able to start vaccinating at an incredible speed in the beginning, the reality for most countries is that the vaccinations have slowed down or stalled completely. Israel, one of the vaccine leaders at the start of the vaccination race, took only 100 days to reach a vaccination rate of 55%. Despite this positive start, it took another 104 days to hit a 60% vaccination rate as the vaccinations slowed to a comparative crawl. Vaccinations started quickly with people who have pre-existing conditions, medical workers, (4)___________ people and those who wanted to get the vaccines rushing to get vaccinated while the rest of the populace lagged behind. 

Governments are now faced with the difficulty of trying to (5)____________ the rest of their populations to get vaccinated. For many regularly given vaccines such as measles, chickenpox and mumps, a vaccination rate of around 90-95% of the population is necessary in order to achieve herd immunity. This is where everyone is considered protected, even those who cannot get vaccinated due to a medical condition or young age. With COVID-19, it is believed that we need to achieve a vaccination rate of around 80-88% in order to effectively stop the spread of the virus. As it stands, only 29 countries have achieved vaccination rates of over 60%. 137 countries have vaccination rates below 20% and 87 countries have vaccination rates between 20-59%. 

The (6)_______________ in vaccinations is a major concern as the Delta variant spreads quickly through the unvaccinated population. In the US, 99% of COVID related hospitalisations have been unvaccinated. The virus is currently running rampant through the unvaccinated populations of many countries as vaccination rates struggle to reach the necessary numbers to slow the spread. The biggest concern now is that more variants will mutate as the virus spreads through the unvaccinated population and that these variants could (7)__________ to the point where the current vaccines are no longer effective.

This situation has caused some countries to begin mandating vaccines in order to continue with daily life. France was one of the first countries to do this. The French government (8)_______________ that being fully vaccinated would be required for almost all places in the country. Shopping malls, bars, restaurants, cinemas and sporting events are just some of the places that now require people to be fully vaccinated. Without being vaccinated, people are no longer allowed to go to any of those places. The announcement led to an (9)_______________ surge of vaccination appointments in France. 1 million people booked appointments for their first dose on the day the announcement was made, consequently crashing the vaccination website. In the month since the announcement was made, the number of people who are fully vaccinated has jumped by 20% and there has been a 14% increase in the number of people who have received their first dose. Nonetheless, governments around the world are reluctant to introduce the kind of measures that the French government has, even as the vaccination rate continues to slow down.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. How are vaccinations going in your country?
5. Have you been vaccinated?
6. What is the most common COVID vaccine in your country?
7. Has your government been having trouble convincing people to get vaccinated?
8. How can governments educate people about vaccines?
9. Why do you think people don’t want to get vaccinated?
10. Do you think vaccines are the only way to stop COVID-19?
11. Do you know anyone who doesn’t want to get vaccinated?
12. What is the best way to convince people to get vaccinated?
13. Has the Delta variant been an issue in your country?
14. What do you think about France’s strict vaccination rules?
15. Do you think your country would ever make vaccination rules similar to France?
16. Do you think forcing people to get vaccinated takes away their freedom?
17. What was the opinion of vaccines in your country before COVID-19?
18. Do you think your country will be able to get to an 80% vaccination rate?
19. Do you think social media has played a role in the slow vaccination rates?
20. Are there any other things that you think unvaccinated people should not be able to do?