Lowering Covid-19 cases across the US was not only critical for the prevention of another surge fueled by variants, but it also made vaccines more likely to continue working effectively against mutations, CNN reported citing an expert.
According to Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and immunologist at the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health, the best thing that could possibly be done to improve the chances that the vaccine would continue working as it was being hoped it would was to reduce cases as much as possible without having those reductions occur as a result of vaccine-derived immunity.
Lowering Covid-19 Cases Critical To Prevent Surge: Expert
New Covid-19 cases in the US on Tuesday were reported at over 59,500, much lower than the six-figure case totals that were being reported a month ago.
However, according to experts, these infection numbers were still high and could see another uptick if Americans let down their guard.
That was the reason measures like masks and social distancing continued to play a key role, because if the virus continued circulating at high levels, it would likely more often come into contact with and try to infect people who have been vaccinated, according, Mina said.
Mina added that the more opportunities that the virus got to come in contact with somebody who was immune, the more opportunities there were for the virus to find a way around that level of immunity and those antibodies.
Scientists had already identified several variants of the virus circulating in the US, and they were particularly worried about the B.1.1.7 strain, a highly contagious variant first detected in the UK. According to a recent study, the variant cases were rapidly increasing across the US, and significant community transmission might already be occurring.
Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that more than 1,270 cases of the variant had been reported across 41 states and Washington, DC. Roughly a third of those cases were in Florida, according to the CDC data.
However, according to the agency, that likely did not represent the total number of cases nationwide. The CDC had recently worked to boost its genome sequencing efforts in order to identify variants.
Quest Diagnostics announced Tuesday that it was also sequencing tests to support the efforts of the CDC to track mutations. It added, the company had already doubled the amount of genomic sequencing it started performing last month.
Over 39 million people had so far received at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, CDC data showed and about 15 million people, roughly 4.5% of the US population, had been fully vaccinated.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who spoke to CNN on Tuesday, it could now be mid to late May or early June before vaccines were available to the general population. Earlier estimates had placed widespread vaccine availability around the end of April.
He said the earlier estimates were predicated on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine having considerably more doses than now we knew they would have. The timeline would probably be prolonged, maybe into mid to late May and early June, he said.
CNN had learned that if it got the green light from the Food and Drug Administration, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout would be slower than officials initially expected.
The administration expected single-digit millions of doses for the vaccine if it was authorized for emergency use.
A miscommunication over the production timeline had led government officials to think that the numbers would ramp up to between 20 or 30 million doses by April. However, an administration official told CNN that they now expected fewer than 20 million doses in April.