A member of the Biden-Harris Transition Covid Advisory Board warned of the transmissible new Covid variants and vaccine resistance during an interview on Thursday evening on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith”.
“They are more virulent, can cause more deaths, and some of them can even escape the immune response, be it natural or through the vaccine,” said Dr. Celine Gounder. “So right now it’s really important that we do everything we can to preserve the vaccines so they’ll keep working, and that means stopping these new varieties from spreading.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three highly contagious mutations of Covid have been detected in at least 33 US states. Researchers say these highly communicable variants could prolong the pandemic and potentially cause another surge. CDC forecasts even predict that the British variant will be the dominant variant in the US by March.
Gounder, an epidemiologist at NYU, told host Shepard Smith that she was “concerned” that people were abandoning their guards in March and that it could potentially lead to another spike.
“This is a time when some families may have a spring break, so you have the additive effect of a vacation where people might socialize and not take all safety measures, on top of this far more contagious variety.” warned Gounder.
Johnson & Johnson announced that it has filed with the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval for its coronavirus vaccine. Last week, data was released showing that protection against the virus was 66% effective.
If the application is approved by J&J, this will be the third vaccine in its arsenal to be approved for use in the US emergency, after vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Unlike the other two shots, however, the J&J vaccine only requires one shot and basic refrigeration for storage.
Gounder stressed that despite promising vaccine data, it is not time to relax masking and social distancing measures.
“By the time anyone who wants to get vaccinated can be vaccinated, we really need to double the masking, social distancing, and whatever measures we’ve been talking about for months,” Gounder said.