CDC director warns Covid variants could reverse the recent drop in cases and hospitalizations

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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New, extremely contagious variants of the coronavirus are a “threat” to the United States and could reverse the recent drop in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Monday.

The U.S. reported a seven-day common of 119,900 new Covid-19 cases a day final week, down almost 20% from the prior week however nonetheless “dramatically higher” than the peak seen throughout the summer season, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky advised reporters throughout a White House information briefing on Covid-19.

The nation additionally reported a mean of 9,977 Covid-19 hospitalizations a day final week, down a minimum of 17% from the prior week, she stated.

“The continued proliferation of variants remains a great concern and is a threat that could reverse the recent positive trends that we are seeing,” Walensky stated. “Please continue to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with. Avoid travel, crowds and poorly ventilated spaces and get vaccinated when it’s available to you,” she added.

U.S. well being officers, together with Dr. Anthony Fauci, have expressed issues about the Covid mutations that could doubtlessly evade the safety of vaccines presently on the market. Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have already stated their vaccines could also be much less potent in opposition to B.1.351, the extremely contagious pressure discovered in South Africa.

On Sunday, South Africa Health Minister Zweli Mkhize stated the nation would droop use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 shot in its vaccination program after knowledge confirmed it gave minimal safety in opposition to B.1.351, the rising pressure there. He stated the authorities would await recommendation from scientists on how finest to proceed following the disappointing outcomes from a trial performed by the University of the Witwatersrand.

As of Sunday, the CDC has recognized 690 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first recognized in the U.Okay., Walensky advised reporters Monday. The company has recognized six cases of the South African pressure in addition to three cases of P.1, a variant first recognized in vacationers from Brazil.

Walensky stated public well being officers are working to seek out extra cases of those variants, including that federal and state officers over the final three weeks have elevated genome sequencing about tenfold. “We are anticipating we might find more” cases in the coming weeks, she added.

The U.S. is all the time working to seek out out precisely how contagious and lethal the new strains are, stated Fauci, the nation’s main infectious illness skilled.

U.Okay. Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated final month that early knowledge means that nation’s pressure could also be extra lethal. Fauci stated Monday that there’s presently no knowledge to point the virus is mutating right into a “less virulent” pressure, which means much less dangerous than the unique virus.

The knowledge from the U.Okay. nonetheless “needs to be confirmed,” Fauci added. “But thus far, no evidence that it is less virulent. Sometimes when viruses mutate to spread more efficiently, they become less virulent, but we do not have any data to indicate that is in fact happening.”

Meanwhile, Fauci has been pushing for folks to get vaccinated as rapidly as doable, saying final week that the virus can’t mutate if it will probably’t infect hosts and replicate.

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