States are easing social isolation rules, but it is “too early” to lift Covid restrictions, warned Dr. Atul Gawande on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.”
“We are currently at the level of cases that are still above the highest level of our last wave, so we didn’t even go lower last summer,” said the surgeon and a professor at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health. “We still have 2,000 deaths a day, so this is not the level at which we are in good shape to just stand on a plateau, but to continue downhill.”
According to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data, the United States currently averages 7,355 new U.S. cases per day in an average of 7,365 days, 73% below its peak of 249,000 in mid-January.
Gawande echoed concerns about reopening shared by director of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Rochelle Walensky, who said he was still “deeply concerned” about the virus.
“Our recent setbacks seem to be coming to a halt – in more than 70,000 cases a day,” Walensky said at a White House press conference on Monday. “With these new statistics, I am very concerned about reports that several states are withdrawing the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19.”
Gawande argued that the new versions of Covid circulating in the United States, including the latest version circulating in New York, B.1.526.
The CDC reports nearly 25.5 million Americans are fully vaccinated, about 8% of the country’s population, and demand for shots in the event of production shortages is outstanding.
“I think the evidence is solid enough to give a single shot to people who previously reported being infected earlier would be a smart thing to do and allow more vaccines to reach others,” Gawande said of the interim strategy in the current to further extend supply.
Two new studies from the UK show that a vaccine can provide “robust” protection for Covid survivors. However, the CDC is currently debating the issue. Gawande told host Shepard Smith that he wanted the CDC to make their assessment as soon as possible.
U.S. vaccination efforts have now been armed with the Johnson & Johnson shot, the third approved vaccine in its arsenal to fight Covid. According to the White House, Americans could begin getting a one-shot vaccine as early as Tuesday.
“As for the expected supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we will be distributing 3.9 million doses this week,” said Jeffrey Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator. “This is the total amount of Johnson & Johnson’s current inventory. These doses will be opened at the door immediately so vaccines can get into weapons as quickly as possible.”