The head of the White House Covid warns that the virus is still a threat
The top White House COVID-19 official is warning that the United States is still in the midst of a pandemic and backs calls for Americans to wear masks back into public indoor places.
Dr Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid response coordinator, told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that the virus remains a threat amid the rise of the BA.5 variant but vaccines and treatments. The treatment available for it has put the country in a better position than it is now. compared to previous years.
He also reiterated a call by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, last week to require Americans to wear face coverings when in public indoor places. However, he denied the potential for a federal masked mandate, saying he believes local governments should be held accountable for those decisions.
The BA.5 variant is thought to be the most contagious, even being able to re-infect a person just a few months after they have contracted the virus. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it now causes the majority of Covid infections in the US.
Both case and death figures rose in the US amid the BA.5 takeover. The number of daily infections has increased to 145,761 cases per day – an increase of 36% in the past week. Deaths rose 23 percent to 528 per day.
Variant BA.5 (dark green) now accounts for 65% of active cases in the US, instead of using strain BA 2.12.1 (red) – which currently accounts for only 17% of cases. Variant BA.4 (light green) is responsible for 16% of US COVID cases
‘This is a virus that is still rapidly evolving. We are still in the midst of this pandemic,” Jha warned.
‘Obviously we’re in a better place than we were a year and a half ago. But we still have work to do, we have to watch out for this virus. ‘
Although Jha warns that this is the best ‘immune avoidance’ version of the virus, tools to control it are still available.
“The good news here is that our tools, our vaccines if you’re up to date, if you’ve been vaccinated recently… if you’re treated, those vaccines will continue to work properly. goodness,” he said.
Dr Ashish Jha (pictured), says America is still in the middle of a pandemic
‘This is an area of concern but we know how to manage it.’
He noted that people over 50 – who are most at risk from the virus – should get a fourth dose of the vaccine if they haven’t already.
The shots, the second booster after the initial two-dose regimens of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, were made available earlier this year in an effort to increase protection for vulnerable populations. most vulnerable to viruses.
“If you’re 50 years old or older, if you haven’t vaccinated this year in 2022, it’s important that you go and get the shot right away because it will provide a high level of protection,” Jha said.
He also recommended that Americans wear masks again.
‘If you’re in a crowded space in your home, especially if it’s poorly ventilated, wearing a mask reduces the risk of infection and the risk of spreading it to others. So we have to continue to encourage people to do that,’ he said.
Jha’s comments echo those of Fauci last week, who also asked Americans to wear face coverings in some public places to prevent the spread of BA.5.
Last week, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that while every American wants to reverse their pandemic, there are still some more steps to be taken.
‘Everybody wants to put this pandemic behind us and feel and hope that it doesn’t exist. It’s true, the good news is that we have the capabilities and tools to solve that problem, and we need to use those tools,’ he said.
‘And if you are in a highly contagious area – and are talking about mandating anything – but advise people when they are in indoor dormitories to wear masks. It’s the simple things that can be done that can keep us from having more of the problems we have now. ‘
Masks aren’t mandated anywhere in the US right now, but that could change soon. Last weekend, Los Angeles entered the high-risk level of Covid.
According to city guidelines, two consecutive weeks of ‘high’ risk will trigger the return of indoor masking duty.
With all relevant metrics currently trending upwards, it’s likely that the nation’s second-largest city will hit that point on July 29.
Jha said he’s in favor of local jurisdictions doing what they feel is best for their communities regarding the virus and keeping the federal government free of decisions at the local level.
Variant BA.5 is believed to be the most infectious form of Omicron that has ever appeared. Early data from South Africa – where it was first discovered – also suggest it may be able to evade natural COVID immunity due to previous infection.
This is especially dangerous because it means that many people who believed they were temporarily safe from Covid due to a previous infection are suddenly compromised again.
It accounts for 65 percent – or two-thirds for short – of all active infections in the US according to genetic sequencing from the CDC.
It comes along with variant BA.4 – also detected earlier this year in South Africa – which now accounts for 16% of cases, according to CDC data.
The BA 2.12.1 variant that predominated before BA.5 now accounts for only 17% of cases, eliminated by two new strains.
The rampant spread of the two new strains of the virus, along with the increased cases that come with it, have prompted officials like Fauci to recommend that Americans take back some of the COVID measures they may have taken. familiar in the past two years.
Source: | This article originally belonged to Dailymail.co.uk