Hospital chief speaks on what US can expect from new COVID-19 variant

Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, shares why he feels the current vaccines should work against the mutation of the virus.
2:46 | 12/30/20

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Transcript for Hospital chief speaks on what US can expect from new COVID-19 variant
they are saying they must stay home for the new year if they are to avoid catastrophe. Now we're talking to Dr. Paul offit. Thank you for joining us. It's no longer a question, right? This more contagious variant is here in the U.S. As we just heard from James, cases and hospitalizations are surging now in the uk. Much of that being blamed on this new mutation. Is what we're seeing over there a preview of what we'll soon see here? How concerned should we be? Well, it does look like the virus binds more tightly to itself, and it is consistent with the fact this might be more I think that hasn't been formally proven yet, but it appears to be. I'm not sure what change that makes for us. The virus seems to be contagious enough. We have 1 million infected and almost 350,000 people who have died from this. It shouldn't change our behavior, and we should do everything we can to mask and social distance and other hygienic measures protect ourselves. We don't do that, and you look, for example, at the cowboys/eagles game. 30,000 people attended that game. I just don't know what we're think here. We're trying to denythis, and I'm note this strain, this apparently more contagious strain is going to change the way we're handling this. Of course, you are a vaccine expert. You have been optimistic though the covid-19 vaccine will work against this new mutation. Why? Is there evidence against this yes? Yes. There was one small study done. They took it from people who have had covid-19, and they looked at if this serum neutralized it. It did, the same way it did the nonmutant strain. The question is does it functionally mutate? In one way it does, and it becomes more contagious, but it doesn't appear to be more viralant, and it doesn't appear to not work against the vaccine. We know distribution in the U.S. Is far behind schedule, and with researchers warning that this new variant appears to be significantly more contagious, will this translate to more hospitalizations and death, especially if we continue to vaccinate at this pace? Well, yeah, I think there's going to be a lot of stumbling as we roll out the vaccine. You put a lot of vaccine out there, and the administration catches up, but I think over the next few weeks and months we're going to be much better at vaccinating, and again, although this appears to be more contagious, you know, the current nonvariant strain has done enough damage that should make us get this vaccine out there quickly anyway. Thank you as always.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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