Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, warned The News with Shepard Smith that the US is “flying blind” and “guessing” when it comes to a highly transmissible new variant of coronavirus in the country.
“We don’t know because we don’t do genomic sequencing of the virus the way we do in the UK and other countries,” Jha said. “We have a lot of capacity for sequencing, it’s not that we can’t. We just don’t have it and we have to pull ourselves together and start so we know if there is another variant around.” our country.”
The CDC issued a statement saying that unlike variants in the UK and South Africa, no highly contagious new US variant of the coronavirus had emerged. However, it has been found that there are likely many variants around the world.
Jha’s statements follow reports from the White House coronavirus task force. According to a document received from NBC News, there could be a new variant of Covid that has evolved within the US, is 50% more transferable, and is driving proliferation.
The US recorded 4,085 deaths on Wednesday, the first time the country topped 4,000, according to CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data. Jha told host Shepard Smith it was “mind-boggling” why the US had not done large-scale genome sequencing of people infected with Covid, but noted that he was not “surprised” by the White House leadership.
“A White House that is not engaging, not interested and not really helpful really hampers the national response,” Jha said in an interview on Friday evening. “Some states are starting to fill the void, but it turns out to be a pandemic that having the federal government is really useful.”
President-elect Joe Biden announced a significant shift in the country’s fight against Covid in a new call to free almost all vaccine supplies after he took office.
In a statement to NBC News, a spokesman for President Biden’s transition wrote, “The president-elect believes we need to speed up vaccine distribution … and believes the government should stop holding back vaccine supplies so we can get more shots can.” now in the arms of the Americans. “
It’s a strategy reversal. Under the Trump administration, the federal government stocked up cans to ensure people could get a second shot. The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccine requires two shots 28 days apart.
To date, states have received more than 22 million doses, but about 70% of those doses are on shelves, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jha said he “fully supports the move by the Biden team” to release the Covid vaccine doses.
“We are in the middle of a terrible crisis,” said Jha. “We have to get people vaccinated, and it’s important that the first shot is shot in people’s arms and then making sure the second shot comes relatively soon after that I think is doable.”