Covid-19 variants pose ‘real threat’ to vaccine progress, CDC warnson March 2, 2021 at 2:53 am

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

A top health expert says highly contagious variants of the virus pose a “real threat” to the US.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President Joe Biden's appointee to run the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

image copyrightReuters

The spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants is threatening to fuel a “potential fourth surge of cases” in the US, a top health official has warned.

The head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said she was concerned by recent Covid-19 data.

Dr Rochelle Walensky said about 70,000 new cases a day had been recorded last week – “a very high number”.

There were nearly 2,000 deaths a day in the same period, she added.

“Please hear me clearly: at this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Dr Walensky said. “These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress.”

There are many different versions, or variants, of Covid-19 circulating, but health experts are particularly concerned about a few which appear to be more contagious, including those first detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

The CDC has predicted the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant first found in the UK will become the dominant strain in the US this month.

A woman receives a coronavirus vaccine in Los Angeles

image copyrightGetty Images

Given this, Dr Walensky said she was “really worried” about reports of US states “rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19”.

“We have the ability to stop a potential fourth surge of cases in this country. Please stay strong in your conviction,” she said.

In total, the US has recorded more than 28 million infections and 500,000 deaths related to Covid-19, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.

Daily infections and deaths fell steeply after a peak in January, when vaccinations against the disease started to be ramped up.

But the CDC says, until more people are vaccinated, variants could drive a spike in cases, threatening health systems already under strain.

More than 2,463 infections involving variants of concern have been reported, according to CDC data. Most of those cases – at least 2,400 – are of the UK variant.

The true number of people infected by variants in the US is thought to be higher.

There is no evidence that any of the variants causes much more serious illness for most people who become infected.

Scientists believe current vaccines do offer protection against variants as well.

As of Monday, the US had administered more than 76 million doses of vaccine, CDC data showed.

Overall, the US has given the most doses of any country in the world. But when breaking the figures down by population, looking at doses administered per 100 people, the US ranked fourth behind the UK, the UAE and Israel, according to Our World in Data.

Chart showing vaccine doses per 100 people in countries with the highest total vaccinations
1px transparent line

Among the vaccinated in the US are former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump, according to reports. They were both vaccinated at the White House in January, an adviser told the New York Times and other US media outlets.

It was not clear which vaccine they had received, but only jabs made by Pfizer and Moderna had been approved by regulators in January.

A third, single-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson was approved for use in the US on Saturday.

Jeff Zients, co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus response team, said the vaccine would start to be delivered “as early as tomorrow”.

About 3.9 million doses of the vaccine will be distributed across the country in the coming days, he said.

- Advertisement -

Discover

Sponsor

Latest

Rail services to come under unified state controlon May 19, 2021 at 9:31 pm

A new public body, Great British Railways, will lead the biggest rail shake-up since privatisation.In 2004, the then transport secretary Alistair Darling considered a...

Conwy man saved by defibrillator he helped raise money foron May 20, 2021 at 5:17 pm

David Pryde, 78, became unwell at his home but was saved by a community first responder and his kit.image copyrightWelsh Ambulance ServiceA man who...

Premier League TV rights: Broadcasters agree to roll over existing dealon May 13, 2021 at 8:01 am

The Premier League agrees to roll over its existing television deal with broadcasters for a further three years.The new deal with Sky Sports, BT...

Hydrogen power offers jobs boost, says governmenton August 17, 2021 at 1:08 am

Kick-starting a hydrogen industry could attract billions in investment, the UK government says.

C.J. Uzomah stars as Cincinnati Bengals come back to beat Jacksonville Jaguarson October 1, 2021 at 10:01 am

Tight end C.J. Uzomah stars for the Cincinnati Bengals as they come back from 14 points down to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-21 to...