Despite progress on vaccination, US seeing more than 70,000 COVID cases per day

Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden joins "GMA" to discuss rising coronavirus cases and the vaccination process.
3:30 | 04/17/21

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Transcript for Despite progress on vaccination, US seeing more than 70,000 COVID cases per day
Joining us no is former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden. Dr. Frieden, good morning to you. It's great to have you with us on a Saturday. So, despite the progress on vaccinations and we should mention there's been a lot of progress there, the U.S. Is still seeing more than 70,000 cases per day. Hospitals in Michigan especially filling up again. The uk variant now the dominant strain here. What's driving this latest surge and what concerns you most? We are in the fourth surge and it's not as deadly as prior surges, we don't know how high the numbers will go but we can control that. The variants are more infectious and they may well be more deadly. That's why fundamentally there are three things we need to do. First, vaccinate as soon as possible. Second, continue to mask up and, third, limit the time you spend indoors with people who are not in your household. The vaccine is astonishingly effective but it's not perfect and it's not here yet. Vaccine-induced immunity really is just around the corner by summer and into fall, things will be very different. But for now we need to keep the protection protocols in place. Speaking of vaccines health experts as you know are investigating the rare blood clots. Possibly linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC advisory panel will meet again next Friday but the head of that committee told me directly just yesterday that it could be weeks before they make a recommendation on this extended pause. Is that the right way to go? Well, first thing we need to understand more fully about the six cases that have been reported, determine if there are other cases that haven't yet been reported, understand if there are risk factors that would predict who might get this complication if it is associated. But right now we don't have enough vaccine. And that puts us in a very difficult situation because we want to get vaccine out as rapidly as possible to as many people as possible. It's astonishingly effective an one thing that we must do much better is target vaccination better. The people at highest risk who are in the highest risk communities don't have the highest rates of vaccination. We need to do much better getting the vaccine to where the virus I. Not because it's going to shut down transmission in a question of weeks but because that's how we're going to stop the pandemic in this country. We have to reach the communities that are not yet reached with vaccination. But how worried are you that this issue with j&j will damage public confidence not only in this vaccine but all of them and the process in which they were authorized. I think there's no doubt this is a challenge to the vaccine program. However, it's really important to emphasize that this is a reflection of the safety system working. Something as rare as 1 in a million doses was rapidly picked up and led to an appropriate pause while we learned more. The challenge will be to continue to ramp up vaccination, understanding some fundamental things. First, we've not seen this complication with the mrna vaccines, with the modern and pfizer vaccine and, second, that this kind of complication is quite common with covid itself. So your risk of getting a severe illness, dying or even getting this specific complication from the infection with covid is vastly higher than the risk that you'll get it from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And that's what that panel will be looking at, weighing the risks versus the benefits. Dr. Frieden, as always, thank you for your time this morning. Thank you, whit.

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

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