The White House COVID coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, said on Sunday he doesn’t expect a surge in infections like the one in January from the latest coronavirus virus variant.
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Jha praised an effort to regard hospital admissions and capacity rather than rising cases as the benchmark for viewing COVID amid the continuing pandemic.
“I don’t expect a surge at all like what we saw in January. I think that is extremely unlikely. But we’ve got to take these things seriously, monitor it closely and see where it goes,” he said.
Still, he added, “our vaccines are holding up just fine, especially if you’re boosted.”
“The bottom line is that [the new variant] is more transmissible, does not cause more severe disease and the vaccines are holding up so it’s that transmissibility that’s really causing it to increase in terms of infections across the country,” he said.
Jha also praised the way the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is viewing the COVID infections.
“The CDC says we should look at a variety of things,” he said. “We should be looking at cases, should be one of the factors. But we should also be looking at hospitalizations, obviously, because that matters more. And then we should be looking at hospital capacity and we should be making decisions based on all of those factors. …that’s what the CDC guidance recommends, and I certainly agree that that’s what we should be using.”
“The pandemic is not over,” Jha added. “As much as we wish it were, we’re in much better shape, but we have to keep plugging away at managing the virus to get back to our lives.”
Jha advised a second booster for those over 60 years old.
“The data out of Israel is pretty compelling,” he said. “That’s what drove both the [Food and Drug Administration] and CDC to make the decisions it did. People over 60 when they got that second booster four months after their first, not only did they have fewer infections, but it also reduced mortality by a significant amount. If you’re over 60, you should be out there getting that second booster.”
Those 50-59 are eligible for the booster, and it’s “worth having a conversation with your physician,” he said.
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