Transcript: CDC Update on COVID-19

Author : sumargencho
Publish Date : 2021-01-03 18:58:41


Transcript: CDC Update on COVID-19

HAYNES: THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO HAS JOINS US TO DISCUSS TWO, NEW VARIANTS OF THE VIRUS THAT CAUSES COVID-19 AS WELL AS COVID-19 VACCINES.  WE ARE JOINED BY DR. HENRY WALKE, THE INCIDENT MANAGER FOR CDC’S COVID-19 RESPONSE AND DR.  NANCY MESSONNIER, DIRECTOR CDC’S NATIONAL CENTER FOR IMMUNIZATION AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES,  AND THE SENIOR FEDERAL OFFICIAL LEADING THE AGENCY’S VACCINE EFFORTS.  DOCTORS WALKE AND MESSONNIER WILL HAVE OPENING REMARKS AND WE’LL BE JOINED BY DR. GREG ARMSTRONG TO TAKE YOUR QUESTIONS.  THIS IS AN ON THE RECORD BRIEFING AND NOT UNDER EMBARGO.  I WILL NOW TURN THE CALL OVER TO DR.  WALKE.

WALKE: THANK YOU, BEN, AND THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.  AS MANY OF YOU ARE AWARE, HEALTH OFFICIALS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND SOUTH AFRICA RECENTLY REPORTED TWO NEW VARIANTS OF SARS COV-2 THE VIRUS THAT CAUSES COVID-19.  BOTH APPEAR TO INFECT PEOPLE MORE EASILY.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT AT THIS TIME THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT EITHER OF THESE VARIANTS CAUSES MORE SEVERE DISEASE OR INCREASES THE RISK OF DEATH.  BECAUSE THESE VARIANTS SEEM TO SPREAD MORE EASILY, WE NEED TO BE EVEN MORE VIGILANT IN OUR PREVENTION MEASURES TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 BY WEARING MASKS, STAYING AT LEAST SIX FEET APART FROM PEOPLE WE DON’T LIVE WITH, AVOIDING CROWDS, VENTILATING INDOOR SPACES AND WASHING OUR HANDS OFTEN.  WE CAN HELP PREVENT FURTHER INCREASES IN INFECTION AT A TIME WHEN OUR HEALTH SYSTEM IS STRAINING IN SOME PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.

I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU IN MORE DETAIL WHAT WE KNOW AND DON’T KNOW ABOUT THESE VARIANTS.  I FIRST WANT TO EMPHASIZE WE’RE EARLY ON IN OUR EFFORTS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE VARIANTS AND WE EXPECT OUR UNDERSTANDING WILL CHANGE AS MORE INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.  WHEN THAT HAPPENS, WE WILL UPDATE YOU.

WHAT WE KNOW.

THE FIRST VARIANT WAS IDENTIFIED ORIGINALLY IN THE UK AND HAS LIKELY BEEN CIRCULATING THERE SINCE SEPTEMBER OF 2020, ESPECIALLY IN LONDON AND SOUTHEAST ENGLAND.  THE SECOND VARIANT WAS FIRST IDENTIFIED IN SOUTH AFRICA AND HAS BEEN CIRCULATING THERE SINCE OCTOBER OF 2020.  THIS SECOND VARIANT DEVELOPED INDEPENDENTLY OF THE FIRST VARIANT.  BOTH VARIANTS HAVE BEEN DETECTED IN OTHER COUNTRIES.

YESTERDAY, PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS IN COLORADO DETECTED THE VARIANT THAT WAS FIRST IDENTIFIED IN THE UK IN A PERSON WHO REPORTED NO TRAVEL HISTORY.  THE LACK OF REPORTED TRAVEL HISTORY SUGGESTS THAT THIS VARIANT HAS BEEN TRANSMITTED FROM PERSON-TO-PERSON IN THE UNITED STATES.  THE ARRIVAL OF THIS VARIANT IN THE UNITED STATES WAS EXPECTED.  CONSIDERING HOW WIDESPREAD IT IS IN THE UK AND HOW FREQUENTLY PEOPLE TRAVEL BETWEEN THE U.S.  AND THE UK.

THE EVIDENCE TO DATE INDICATES THAT BOTH NEWLY EMERGING VARIANTS SPREAD MORE EASILY AND QUICKLY THAN OTHER STRAINS.  HOWEVER, THERE IS, AGAIN, NO EVIDENCE THAT THESE VARIANTS CAUSE MORE SEVERE DISEASE OR INCREASE RISK OF DEATH.  BECAUSE THE VARIANTS SPREAD MORE RAPIDLY, THEY COULD LEAD TO MORE CASES AND PUT EVEN MORE STRAIN ON OUR HEAVILY BURDENED HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS.

VIRUSES CONSTANTLY CHANGE THROUGH MUTATION.  WE EXPECT TO SEE NEW VARIANTS EMERGE OVER TIME.  MANY MUTATIONS LEAD TO VARIANTS THAT DON’T CHANGE HOW THE VIRUS INFECTS PEOPLE.  SOMETIMES, HOWEVER, VARIANTS EMERGE THAT CAN SPREAD MORE RAPIDLY, LIKE THESE.

BASED ON OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE, EXPERTS BELIEVE OUR CURRENT VACCINES WILL BE EFFECTIVE AGAINST THESE STRAINS.

HERE’S WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW.

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WE DON’T KNOW HOW WIDELY THE VARIANT FIRST IDENTIFIED IN THE UK HAS SPREAD IN THE UNITED STATES.  WE DON’T KNOW IF THE OTHER VARIANT THAT WAS FIRST IDENTIFIED IN SOUTH AFRICA IS IN THE UNITED STATES.  WE ALSO STILL DON’T KNOW HOW WIDELY THESE TWO NEW VARIANTS HAVE SPREAD ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WORLD.  WE’RE STILL LEARNING HOW THESE VARIANTS MIGHT RESPOND TO DRUGS AND OTHER COVID-19 TREATMENTS, INCLUDING MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES AND CONVALESCENT PLASMA.  THE CDC CONTINUES ITS EFFORTS TO LEARN ABOUT THESE VARIANT STRAINS AND WE URGE AMERICANS TO CONTINUE TO TAKE THE PROVEN, PREVENTION STEPS THAT HELP US CONTROL THE SPREAD OF COVID-19.  THESE INCLUDE WEARING MASKS, STAYING AT LEAST SIX FEET APART FROM OTHERS, AVOIDING CROWDS, VENTILATING INDOOR SPACES AND WASHING OUR HANDS OFTEN.  AS NEW INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE, CDC WILL PROVIDE UPDATES.

NOW I’D LIKE TO TURN THE CALL OVER TO DR. MESSONNIER TO DISCUSS DEVELOPMENTS AROUND THE COVID-19 VACCINE.

MESSONNIER: THANK YOU, DR. WALKE, AND GOOD AFTERNOON.  THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.  I LOOK FORWARD TO SPEAKING TO YOU TODAY ABOUT CDC’S WORK ON COVID-19 VACCINE IMPLEMENTATION.  LAST WEEK WE ADDED NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION AND ADMINISTRATION DATA TO THE CDC COVID DATA TRACKER, AND TODAY WE’RE ADDING THE EQUIVALENT DATA FROM THE 64 JURISDICTIONS WHERE VACCINES ARE SENT FOR ADMINISTRATION.

JURISDICTIONS ARE UNDER IMMENSE STRESS NOW AND HAVE BEEN FOR QUITE SOME TIME.  AS THE THREAT OF COVID-19 DISEASE AND DEATH REMAINS A PROBLEM HERE IN THE U.S., JURISDICTIONS ARE SUPPORTING THE LARGEST VACCINE ROLLOUT IN THE COUNTRY’S HISTORY AND TRYING TO MAINTAIN STANDARD PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES.  THEIR HARD WORK AND DEDICATION NOW AND IN THE FUTURE ARE THE REASON THE COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.  AND AS WITH ALL THE DATA WE HAVE IN THE RESPONSE, INCLUDING THE CASES AND TESTING COUNTS, CDC RELIES ON DATA FROM STATES, LOCALS, TRIBES AND TERRITORIES TO UNDERSTAND WHERE WE ARE AS A NATION AND WHAT SUPPORT WE CAN OFFER AS A LOCAL LEVEL TO ASSIST COMMUNITIES HARDEST HIT BY THE PANDEMIC.

TODAY WE ALSO ADDED ONLINE THE TOTAL DISTRIBUTION AND ADMINISTRATION DATA REPRESENTING THE 52 JURISDICTIONS THAT HAVE STARTED THE PHARMACY PARTNERSHIP FOR THE LONG-TERM CARE PROGRAM.  SO FAR MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION PEOPLE, INCLUDING HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS AND NURSING HOME AND ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY RESIDENTS HAVE RECEIVED THE FIRST DOSE AND ARE ON THE WAY TOWARDS PROTECTION FROM COVID-19.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER IT’S BEEN LESS THAN A YEAR SINCE WE FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS VIRUS AND JUST 20 DAYS AGO THAT THE FIRST VACCINE WAS AUTHORIZED FOR USE.  WITH TWO VACCINES NOW AVAILABLE HERE UNDER EMERGENCY USE, I WOULD SAY HOW FAR WE’VE COME IS AN EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT.  HOWEVER, WE HAVE ALWAYS EXPECTED AND PREPARED FOR BUMPS IN THE ROAD.  PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS HAVE EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE WITH VACCINE DISTRIBUTION AND ADMINISTRATION AND ARE WORKING TO QUICKLY OVERCOME OBSTACLES.  THE VACCINES HAVE HAD EXTENSIVE SAFETY TESTING BEFORE BEING AUTHORIZED FOR USE.

AS WITH ANY MEDICINE THAT IS BEING DISTRIBUTED TO MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, WE EXPECT TO SEE SOME SIDE EFFECTS.  RARE, BUT SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS CAN HAPPEN.  THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL PEOPLE WHO AFTER THE VACCINE HAVE HAD SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTIONS.  CDC TAKES THESE REPORTS VERY SERIOUSLY AND HAS BEEN MEETING REGULARLY WITH FDA, OUR PARTNER IN MONITORING VACCINE SAFETY, TO DISCUSS.  WE ANTICIPATE MMWR EARLY NEXT WEEK AND REGULAR ONLINE UPDATES ABOUT THE CASES.  CDC STAFF AND I HAVE SPENT THE LAST FEW MONTHS LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR THE VACCINE ROLLOUT AND MORE RECENTLY TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT THE SPECIFIC VACCINES.

THROUGH CONFIDENCE CALLS WITH PARTNERS, CLINICIAN CALLS WITH TENS OF THOUSANDS OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS AND WEEKLY AND SOMETIMES DAILY CALLS WITH IMMUNIZATION AND EMERGENCY PROGRAM MANAGERS.  WE RECOGNIZE PEOPLE HAVE QUESTIONS.  IT’S OUR JOB AT CDC IN PUBLIC HEALTH AND AS HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS TO ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS SO THAT WHEN VACCINE IS MORE BROADLY AVAILABLE, EVERYONE IS PREPARED TO TAKE IT.  IT’S IMPRESSIVE WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO VACCINATE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT LOCAL JURISDICTIONS TO EFFICIENTLY AND QUICKLY ENSURE VACCINE GETS TO PRIORITY POPULATIONS IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.

IT’S BEEN A DIFFICULT YEAR FOR ALL OF US, INCLUDING ME.  IT’S BEEN ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT TO HAVE MY CHILDREN HOME SCHOOLING AND TO NOT BE ABLE TO SEE MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY.  IT’S BEEN A YEAR OF UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGES.  WE’VE STRUGGLED WITH HOW TO WORK AND HOW OUR CHILDREN LEARN AND WE’VE ALL HAD TO DISCOVER NEW WAYS TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS.  MY HEART GOES OUT TO THE FAMILIES OF THE 349,200 PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIED FROM COVID-19, BUT THE RECENT EVENTS HAVE PROVED A REASON FOR OPTIMISM AS WE HEAD INTO THE NEW YEAR.  WHILE OUR PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE PERSONNEL WORK HARDLY TO GET VACCINATIONS TO GO SMOOTHLY, EVERY PERSON CAN DO THEIR PART.  MAKE A COMMITMENT TO GET VACCINATED WHEN IT’S YOUR TURN AND ENCOURAGE EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO DO THE SAME.  I’M CONFIDENT THAT COVID-19 VACCINATION IS THE WAY THAT WE HELP.

HOWEVER, UNTIL VACCINE IS WIDELY AVAILABLE, I ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO YOUR PART TO HELP SLOWING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 BY WEARING A MASK, SOCIALLY DISTANCING AND AVOIDING CROWDS.  IMAGES OF PEOPLE BEING VACCINATED SHARED ON NEWS AND THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA HAVE BEEN FLOODING IN AND STAFF HAVE BEEN SHARING STORIES OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHO HAVE BEEN VACCINATED.  I WANT TO THANK THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE ALREADY ROLLED UP THEIR SLEE



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