Transcript for What to know about COVID-19 variants
Let's bring in Dr. Ashish jha, Dean of the brown university school of public health. Dr. Jha, thanks for being with us. Yes, now we know the uk variant is the most common source of the virus here in the United States, and what are you anticipating in the weeks ahead? Is it possible? Can we actually vaccinate our way out of this? Yes, so good morning, thank you for having me on. It's going to be tough. This was predicted. We expected the uk variant to become dominant. And we're doing a great job on vaccinations. But vaccinations alone are going to be difficult to manage this pandemic. It would be helpful to have some public health restrictions still for a few more weeks. I think by the time we get into may we'll be in much better shape but the next few weeks will be pretty tough. Something especially troubling especially to parents hearing this news that younger people, even children, may be more affected by this uk variant. What can you tell us about what it is doing in our younger population and how concerned should we be? Yeah, so it's more contagious for everybody, but the good news is we have managed to vaccinate a large chunk of older Americans. That's terrific. It's what's leading to fewer hospitalizations and death, but that means that this pandemic is now starting to really rage among young people including children. This is why we got to keep going, keep going on vaccinations and public health measures until we get this under control. You said, Dr. Jha, a few weeks ago you believed that we were possibly going to avoid another surge. We always talk about these surges. Do you still believe that? Do you believe that the worst of the pandemic is behind us at this point? Yeah, there's no doubt in my mind the worst of the pandemic, the horrible days of December and January, so many hospitalizations, so many deaths every day. I do believe that's behind us largely because we vaccinated so many high risk people. We may still see a surge in cases and young people get hospitalized and sick and unfortunately some will die but I don't think we'll get back to December, thank goodness and just got to keep going on preventing as many hospitalizations as we can. The astrazeneca vaccine and European health officials saying there is a possible link between that vaccine and a rare and potentially deadly blood clotting. Do you expect that the U.S. Will authorize that vaccine usage here and do we need it? Yeah, two good questions, first of all it's a very rare side effect. We use lots of medicines that have side effects that are just as serious all the time, and so I wouldn't let that side effect slow me down if I were in a country where this vaccine was authorized. In terms of whether we need it or not we have three other vaccines that are highly effective and very safe, so I think the fda will take a long, hard look at this and decide whether it makes sense for Americans to have a fourth one or whether we can make due with the three that we have. Dr. Jha, always a pleasure to have you on. We appreciate your time today. Thank you.
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