Public health expert speaks on multiple new COVID-19 variants

Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, speaks on extending the time between the second dose of coronavirus vaccine and when the country may see widespread immunity.
3:28 | 01/24/21

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Transcript for Public health expert speaks on multiple new COVID-19 variants
Let's start with this new variant of covid-19 from the uk, some British officials warning it could be up to 30% more deadly. But scientists are stressing more research is needed. Explain this to us. What does the science here actually tell us? Yes, good morning, and thank you for having me on. In terms of the uk variant, it's clearly more contagious. I don't think there's any question about that. The question that has come up is in the last few days, is it also more deadly if you get infected with it? Some preliminary evidence it may be, alternatively it could be that variant hit the uk when their hospitals are more overwhelmed. When hospitals get overwhelmed, mortality rate tend to rise. We have to sort out, is it the virus? Is it the hospitals? That still needs to be sorted out. It's still a deadly disease. And clearly more contagious. Those numbers aren't quite clear quite yet. So we're seeing multiple new variants now. Not just the uk one. There's one from South Africa, some homegrown ones as well, how concerning is this? Does it add urgency to step up the vaccine effort? Before this virus can make any more changes that we see. Yeah, absolutely, I think it ups the urgency to get people vaccinated. Look, the best way to stop new variants from coming out is to control the pandemic, and anything we can do to control the infections, we've got to really try our best to control these things and the vaccine is our best tool right now. There are reports that the current vaccines aren't as effective against these new so I'm curious, at this point can we tweak the vaccines to make them more effective? Is there something that we can do to tackle those new variants in a more strategic way? Yeah, so, all of the evidence right now says that the current vaccines work great, certainly against the uk variant, but there's some question about the south African variant may be partially resistant. I'm not convinced of that. The nightmare scenario that we do get a virus that's resistant to the vaccine, we can fweek it and get a better version. But right now, all the evidence says the vaccine works against all of these variants. I know the question people keep asking me, when we will go back to normal. Do you have any sense we need to be doing with these vaccine rates to get back to this normal, widespread immunity? Yeah, absolutely. So, we've got to keep pushing, obviously he had a botched rollout. I think it's picking up pace now, we're getting to a point where we've got to be vaccinating millions of people every day, that would be the ideal. If we continue that pace, I do think late spring into summer, life will feel dramatically better. I don't know when we'll exactly hit the herd immunity threshold. But it will get much, much better later spring and summer. Late spring, summer, light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Jha, thank you so much for that encouraging word this morning.

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

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