(Trends Wide) — The US braces for a combination of threats this winter as both flu and COVID-19 spread, and the country will likely have to change everyday life to deal with both, an expert said.
“I think the dual threat of this pathogen and the flu that circulates every winter, as coronaviruses settle in a more seasonal pattern, is going to be too much for society to bear,” said the former Administration Commissioner. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr. Scott Gottlieb, to Trends Wide’s Jake Tapper. “I think we are going to have to readjust the way we live.”
Covid-19 cases have been driven by the more transmissible delta variant, but Gottlieb said last week that this could be the last major wave of infection the country sees. However, that depends on having enough people to protect themselves from infection or vaccination, he added.
Currently, 55.8% of the US population is fully vaccinated against the virus, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that probably the “vast majority” will have to be vaccinated to control the spread, although experts don’t know what the exact percentage will be.
“When you don’t know what the figure is, what do you do? Vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly and expeditiously as possible. That’s what we should focus on, not a specific number,” Fauci said , director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, during a covid-19 briefing at the White House.
Some companies, workplaces, and schools have made it mandatory to vaccinate their customers, employees, and students in the hope of controlling the spread. And evidence shows that vaccination mandates get more people vaccinated, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News on Monday.
From the public, opinions are mixed on the vaccination mandates of employers in general, but most support the mandates for healthcare workers, teachers, government employees and university students, according to data from the Kaiser Vaccine Monitor. Family Foundation published this Tuesday.
As Covid-19 becomes a seasonal phenomenon, Gottlieb said schools and workplaces will have to make changes.
“We are going to have to improve indoor air quality and filtration. People will wear masks, I think optional,” he said. “We are probably going to try to densify the offices in winter to try to reduce risk, probably moving conferences that can be held in winter to fall (or) spring.”
“We have been too complacent with the spread of respiratory diseases in winter,” he said. “With the double threat of influenza and covid circulating, we will no longer be able to enjoy that complacency,” he added.
The authorization of the vaccine for children has not yet been requested
Cases among children are making up a larger share of new COVID-19 infections reported in the US, and health experts hope that a vaccine for children will soon be available.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reported 206,864 new cases of Covid-19 among children on Monday during the week ending Sept. 23, accounting for 27% of all reported cases nationwide.
Pfizer and BioNTech said Tuesday that they have submitted data from the covid-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 to the FDA for initial review, but have not formally submitted an emergency use authorization request.
“This is typical of a continuous presentation, in which the data that is available is presented,” Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, told Trends Wide.
Once all data is submitted, Pfizer will apply to FDA for emergency use authorization. Gottlieb said he believes that will happen “imminently.”
When the FDA gives the green light, the United States will be ready to vaccinate the youngest children, Dr. Vivek Murthy, US Chief Health Officer, said Tuesday.
“The FDA’s top priority is getting the covid vaccines to the public, especially our children,” he said.
But it is not clear whether families will choose to participate in large-scale childhood vaccination.
An Axios-Ipsos poll released Tuesday showed parents of children ages 5 to 11 are divided on their children’s vaccinations, with 44% saying they are likely to do so and 42% saying they are likely to do so. unlikely to do so.
Reinforcements are likely to be expanded
Vaccine boosters have also been debated, but Fauci hopes they will likely end up being part of the official vaccine series.
Booster doses of Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine are now available for people 65 and older and for some adults with underlying illnesses or at increased risk of infection.
When asked about people who do not meet the criteria and are already receiving booster doses, Fauci told NBC News: “That is correct, and the reason is that we are dealing with a moving target. There is an interpretation on the part of some, ‘Well, let’s go ahead and put the reinforcement on.’
Health experts are also studying whether those who originally received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine can receive the boosters from Pfizer before the companies launch their own.
Data evaluating the safety and efficacy of mixing different brands of covid-19 vaccines is yet to come and will be submitted to the FDA for review, Fauci said Tuesday.
Trends Wide’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Virginia Langmaid, Maggie Fox, Jen Christensen, Jamie Gumbrecht, and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.