(Trends Wide) — The United States is “turning the corner” in the current wave of covid-19, but vaccination remains key to ensuring that cases continue to trend down before the holiday season, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States registers an average of 107,000 new infections a day, up from more than 150,000 last month. Rates of hospitalization and death have also decreased.
However, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC’s “This Week” program that, throughout almost 20 months of the pandemic, the increases in covid have decreased and then reappear .
“The way to keep it down, to keep that change going down, is … to get people vaccinated. When there are 70 million people in the country who qualify to be vaccinated and they still aren’t, that’s it. the danger zone, “Fauci said.
With winter approaching, experts have warned of the double threat that the covid-19 virus and the flu could pose to an already overloaded health system. However, Fauci told CBS “Face the Nation” that it is too early to know if the holiday season will be a safe time for Americans to come together.
“We have to concentrate on continuing to lower those figures, and not try to anticipate weeks or months and say what we are going to do at a certain time,” he said. “We are going to focus like a laser on continuing to lower those cases, and we can do it if people get vaccinated,” he added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their guidelines on holiday celebrations, urging people to get vaccinated before the holidays and to wear a mask in public in public. important transmission areas.
“Attending meetings to celebrate events and parties increases the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. The safest way to celebrate it is virtually, with the people who live with you, or outdoors and at a distance of at least 1.80 meters from the others, “says the document.
CDC guidelines also recommend delaying travel until fully vaccinated.
Nearly 56% of the total U.S. population, or 65.4% of those 12 and older who qualify, are fully vaccinated, according to data released Sunday by the CDC.
However, 15 states have yet to fully vaccinate more than half of their residents, according to CDC data: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Mandates stimulate vaccination and opposition
Mandates forcing employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 have spurred some workers to get vaccinated in recent weeks, but others who have refused vaccination are being suspended or losing their jobs.
In New York City, the vaccination mandate for educators went into effect Friday afternoon and New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter told Trends Wide she did not expect the mandate to cause a shortage. of teachers this Monday, noting that 93% of the city’s teachers are vaccinated.
“We have more substitutes vaccinated than unvaccinated, teachers and our superintendents have been working with our principals to develop plans to ensure that our students receive the education and continue to receive the education they deserve in person,” Porter said.
Porter disputed claims by some teachers who say they are being unfairly forced to vaccinate rather than given a chance to try.
“We are responsible for more than a million students and we have elementary school students who cannot be vaccinated, so we have to do everything we can to wrap our children in a bubble of protection and keep them safe,” Porter said.
On CBS Sunday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), warned of the politicization of vaccines in the country.
Gottlieb said vaccination has always been considered a collective decision and not just an individual choice. “That is why we have a childhood vaccination schedule, because your behavior – regarding your choice regarding vaccination – affects your community,” he said.
Gottlieb said there could be consequences of vaccination becoming a political issue.
“I am concerned that, going forward, we will see vaccination rates decrease as this becomes a political issue and we will see people, literally, governors coming forward against vaccines and vaccination mandates, in the next presidential cycle. That is going to be detrimental to public health, in general, if that is what results from this episode that we are in, “he said.
A promising pill shouldn’t deter vaccination
The United States surpassed 700,000 deaths from covid-19 on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and the country continues to record an average of almost 1,900 deaths a day.
President Joe Biden noted the grim death toll in a statement Saturday, highlighting the impact of vaccination, saying: “Hundreds of thousands of families have been spared the excruciating loss that too many Americans have already suffered during this pandemic.”
As the country reflected on the death toll, Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced that they had created an antiviral pill that can reduce hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by 50%, according to their data.
Merck said it would apply for FDA emergency use authorization for its drug molnupiravir “as soon as possible.” If authorized, it would become the first oral drug to combat COVID-19.
The news was greeted by health experts, who also warned that it should not replace vaccines.
“It’s never okay to get infected,” Fauci told Trends Wide’s Dana Bash on Sunday.
“It lowered the risk – this pill did – of hospitalizations and death by 50%. Do you know how to reduce the risk by 100%? Don’t get infected in the first place,” he said.
As for those who rely on previous infection to protect them from contracting COVID-19 again, a new study published Friday in The Lancet Microbe suggests that protection may be short-lived.
“Re-infection can reasonably occur in three months or less,” Jeffrey Townsend, professor of biostatistics at the Yale School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a news release. “Therefore, those who have been infected naturally should be vaccinated. Previous infection alone may offer very little long-term protection against subsequent infections.”
Vaccines for children on the horizon
Parents hoping to vaccinate their children got good news last week, as Pfizer announced Tuesday that it had submitted data from the covid-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 to the FDA for initial review.
The company has not yet applied for emergency use authorization, but on Friday the FDA announced that its vaccine advisers would meet on October 26 to discuss the data.
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is currently approved for persons 16 years of age and older in the US, and is licensed for emergency use for persons 12 to 15 years of age.
On Sunday, Fauci warned that although a child may be less likely to have a serious outcome from a COVID-19 case, it is not a “benign situation.”
“We are seeing now, very clearly, if you go to pediatric hospitals, that although this risk is lower than that of adults, there are children in the hospital who are getting seriously ill,” he said on Trends Wide’s “State of the Union” program. .
There is also the risk of long covid in which some survivors, including children, suffer persistent symptoms for months after being infected, he said.
“You want to protect your child, but you also want the child to be part of the solution, mainly so that the infection does not spread, not within your home or to other vulnerable people,” Fauci said, adding that it is something “very positive and good to vaccinate your children.”
Trends Wide’s Mallory Simon contributed to this report.