A dangerous coronavirus variant is wreaking havoc in other parts of the world, so the US must stick with safety measures over the next few months to prevent that kind of damage as the variant takes more of a hold stateside, an expert says.The B.1.1.7 variant, first spotted in the UK, is more contagious, may cause more severe disease and is rapidly infecting younger populations, epidemiologist Michael Osterholm told CNN on Tuesday night. Recent research suggests the strain may also be more deadly.”If we can just hold out, if we can just get enough vaccine between now and the summer, we can actually beat this one,” Osterholm said.
That advice comes as Pfizer and BioNTech released news that could impact inoculations later this year: Their Covid-19 vaccine was 100% effective and well tolerated in youths ages 12-15 in a clinical trial, the companies said.Pfizer/BioNTech said they intend to submit the data as soon as possible for expanded emergency use authorization of their two-dose vaccine for those ages to the US Food and Drug Administration. Currently, no Covid-19 vaccine is authorized for anyone under 16 in the US.As for the B.1.1.7 variant, it has fueled dangerous increases in other countries.In France, where health officials warned last month the variant was rapidly spreading, more than 5,000 Covid-19 patients are now in ICUs — for the first time since last April. Turkish officials reported the highest daily case counts since the pandemic’s start, with most of those infections caused by the B.1.1.7 variant. In Canada, the strain has led to more infections and hospitalizations, with officials reporting rising numbers of severe illnesses, including in younger patients.Health leaders worry the US could be headed in a similar direction, because a big part of the population remains vulnerable the virus. Only around 16.1% of the US population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“The trajectory of the pandemic in the United States looks similar to many other countries in Europe, including Germany, Italy and France looked like just a few weeks ago,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday.
News Source: CNN