Tuesday, April 20

New wave of covid-19 in the US could look different, warn


(CNN) — Experts say that the vaccination against COVID-19 in the US is going extremely well, but there are not enough people protected yet and the country could be at the beginning of another wave.

This weekend, the United States reported a record with more than 4 million doses of covid-19 vaccines administered in 24 hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And the country now averages more than 3 million daily doses, according to CDC data.

But only about 18.5% of Americans are fully vaccinated, CDC data shows, and COVID-19 cases in the country have seen worrying increases recently.

“I think we still have a few more difficult weeks ahead of us,” Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist, told CNN on Sunday. “What we know from the pandemic last year is that we are inclined to trend three to four weeks behind Europe in terms of our pandemic patterns.”

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The highly contagious B.1,1.7 variant has led to an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in parts of Europe. And experts worry that the United States will be next if residents don’t step up security measures until more people are vaccinated.

The worst thing, experts say, is that the variant is changing the pandemic handbook and could spell trouble for younger groups that have not yet been vaccinated.

“We have to think of variant B.1,1.7 almost as a new virus,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “It’s acting differently from anything we’ve seen before, in terms of transmissibility, in terms of affecting young people, so we have to take this very seriously.”

More young people infected and hospitalized

The difference between the previous waves and another possible wave now is that “the people most affected now are the youngest,” emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen told CNN on Sunday.

Older populations across the country have been prioritized for covid-19 vaccines. More than 54% of Americans 65 and older have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, while more than 75% of that same age group have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

But while that age group is now relatively well protected, Wen said, younger age groups remain vulnerable as variant B.1,1.7 circulates. The variant is more contagious and can cause more serious illness, experts have said. Research suggests that it can also be more deadly.

“We’re seeing in places like Michigan that the people who are now hospitalized in large numbers are in their 30s and 40s,” Wen said. “And now we are also seeing children becoming infected in greater numbers.”

It’s not just Michigan.

“What we’re seeing are pockets of infection across the country, particularly in younger people who haven’t been vaccinated, and also in school-age children,” said former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, to CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“If you look at what is happening in Michigan, in Minnesota, in Massachusetts, for example, we are seeing outbreaks in schools and infections in social groups that have not been exposed to the virus before.”

“The infection is changing its contours in terms of who is being affected by it at the moment,” he added.

In Florida’s Orange County, officials reported late last month an increase in COVID-19 cases in the 18-25 age group.

And a third of all COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county were people under the age of 45, according to Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

New Jersey officials said last week that the variants, including the B.1,1.7 strain, were contributing to an increase in cases and hospitalizations, even in the youngest age groups.

Between the first and last week of March, there was a 31% and 48% increase in the number of hospitalizations among the age groups 20-29 and 40-49, respectively, State Health Commissioner Judy said Wednesday. Persichilli.

Meanwhile, older residents only saw single-digit percentage increases, he added.

How can we stop another wave of infections?

Despite alarming warning signs, the United States is not powerless, experts stress.

Stepping up safety measures (wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowds) along with a quick and efficient vaccination can help curb another wave of covid-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Saturday.

“We say it over and over and we need local people, we need governors, mayors and others to be able to say that we are not out of this yet,” Fauci said.

“People say, ‘Well, they just want to confine us forever.’ No, this is not going to last forever because every day that four million, three million people are vaccinated, one is getting closer and closer to control ».

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Hotez estimated Sunday that Americans need to hold out “another four to six weeks, and then we’ll be on the other side.”

“All vaccines seem to work equally well against this UK B.1,1.7 variant… so that’s really good news,” he said. “I am very confident that we will be in a really good place for the summer.”

“But if you are not vaccinated, you must behave as if you are very vulnerable to this virus, this is not the time to get sick,” added Hotez.

CNN’s Naomi Thomas, Ganesh Setty, and Heather Law contributed to this report.


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