And high infection rates today could also mean problems with vaccines later, an expert told CNN on Monday.
Unchecked spread not only leads to preventable illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths, but also increases the risk of an even more dangerous variant that could make the vaccine less effective, said Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC.
You asked, we answered: Your most important questions about Covid-19 and vaccines
Travel and crowds tend to jump
While the vaccines are being rolled out, Frieden says Americans should continue to take precautions, such as wearing masks and limiting exercise and spending time indoors with people other than family members.
When people travel and mingle, there can be a significant increase in infections within a few weeks, he added.
Despite warnings from health authorities, some Americans do both.
On Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1.5 million people at airports across the country, a new pandemic record that surpasses the record set two days earlier.
Meanwhile, spring fans are flocking to popular places like Florida, where Miami Beach officials have declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in response to crowds that the mayor says are beyond our capacity.
All this while governors and local leaders across the country are easing Covid 19 restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.
Detection of Covid 19 cases in the United States
Vaccines have saved thousands of lives
Frieden says another surge in the U.S. is likely, but it will be much less deadly because of the vaccines being administered.
To date, more than 82.7 million Americans have received at least one dose of the Covid 19 vaccine and more than 44.9 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, the CDC said.
We estimate that vaccination has already saved at least 40,000 lives in the United States, Frieden said. These are very good vaccines and the sooner they come out, the better.
So far, the FDA has given the green light to three Covid-19 vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the only one of the three that requires a one-time injection.
And a fourth vaccine may be available soon. AstraZeneca is expected to apply for emergency approval of its vaccine in the coming weeks.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine showed 79% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospitalization in a new U.S. clinical trial, the company announced Monday.
But an independent group that reviewed data from several candidates for the Covid 19 vaccine has expressed concern about the results, according to a statement released Tuesday by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The Data and Safety Oversight Committee was concerned that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information in this study, which may have created an incomplete picture of efficacy data, the committee said in a statement.
We encourage the company to work with the DSMB to review the performance data so that the most accurate and up-to-date performance data is published as soon as possible, he added.
AstraZeneca had previously said it hoped to deliver 50 million doses within a month if it received approval for emergency use.
We expect to submit the application to the FDA in the first half of April, assuming the FDA is very supportive of our application, Ruud Dobber, president of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceutical division, told CNN in a statement.
Upon FDA approval, we will immediately release 30 million doses in the first phase, followed by another 20 million doses in the same month, the press release said.
Recommendations for fully immunised persons
Americans who are already fully vaccinated should feel free to visit unvaccinated family and friends without restrictions, CDC officials said Monday, but added that visits should be limited to one unvaccinated household at a time.
According to CDC epidemiologist Tami Skoff, in an environment where non-housed persons are part of the same household and all non-housed persons are at low risk for severe Covida 19 disease, no preventive measures are needed, so these visits can occur indoors without masking or physical distancing.
For example, fully vaccinated grandparents can visit their unvaccinated daughter and her unvaccinated children indoors and unmasked, as long as none of them are at increased risk of serious illness, Skoff said.
The recommendations apply only to people who have been fully vaccinated, meaning at least two weeks have passed since the second dose of the two-dose vaccine series or two weeks since Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine was administered, Schoff said.
According to Schoff, there is growing evidence that fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to develop an asymptomatic infection and thus transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others.
However, there are two important exceptions that require everyone to take precautions: when an inactivated person is at high risk of severe covid-19 or when more than two inactivated outbreaks mix.
Read the CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people.
Long-term effects occur in one-third of hospitalized patients
Researchers are also trying to learn more about the long-term effects of the infections – and how many people may be affected.
Long-term effects that may affect multiple organ systems occur in approximately one-third of patients hospitalized with Covid-19. That’s according to an extensive review of scientific research published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.
The researchers reviewed the scientific literature on post-acute covid-19, which is defined as complications caused by the virus that last longer than four weeks after the onset of symptoms.
The long-term effects of Covid can affect more than half a dozen organ systems, including pulmonary, hematological, cardiovascular, neuropsychiatric, renal, dermatological, gastrointestinal and endocrine systems, the studies said.
Common persistent symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, palpitations, anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The researchers proposed a framework for treating these patients through multidisciplinary long-term care clinics in Covid and praised patient advocacy groups, including COVID Advocacy Exchange, Body Politic, and Survivor Corps, for collecting data on patients’ symptoms and coordinating with the researchers to gather additional information.
CNN’s Pete Mints, Michael Nedelman, Ryan Pryor, Christopher Rios, Ben Tinker and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.
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