A new, widely feared COVID surge appears to be upon us. In some big, largely urban states that were hit hard by the pandemic a year ago, especially Michigan, the daily rates of new cases are roughly as high as they were at the peak of the previous—and worst—surge this past winter. The main reasons for the trend are pretty clear. New and more transmissible variants of the novel coronavirus are becoming dominant across the United States. Republican and Democratic governors and mayors alike are rushing to loosen restrictions on businesses and gatherings. Meanwhile, superspreader events such as Spring Break and college parties have seeded fresh outbreaks in communities that, after a year of widespread restrictions, have grown weary of masks, limited restaurant capacities, and bans.
But another reason is less obvious. In a sense, the current spike in infections is the result of a vaccination strategy that prioritized saving lives.