Former Obama administration official Dr. Kavita Patel told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” that the number of Covid or booster vaccinations people need “depends on what we see with these strains and how much they escape the immune system”.
Moderna announced on Monday that it was working on updating its Covid vaccine. The company’s researchers said its current shot may be less effective against the South African tribe, also known as the 501Y.V2 variant. The variant is 50% more contagious and has been detected in more than two dozen countries.
Patel, who served in the Obama administration as political director for the Bureau of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, told host Shepard Smith that the announcement of Moderna’s vaccine came as no surprise.
“We all suspected that this would not be our only recording, whatever we get this year,” said Patel. “I think it suggests something or a booster at least possibly every few years.”
The Minnesota Department of Health announced Monday that the state has a confirmed case of the highly communicable P.1 variant, also known as B.1.1.248. It was first discovered in northern Brazil in mid-December.
The mutated strains of Covid have led to important measures to combat the spread of the virus. President Joe Biden has reimposed travel bans from nearly 30 countries, including the UK, Brazil and South Africa, to curb new variants. Dr. Anthony Fauci described the travel ban on Monday’s Today Show as “prudent”. He added that travelers must show a negative Covid test before getting on a plane flying to the United States
Despite the new strains of Covid, Patel told host Shepard Smith that “hopefully the worst is behind us” when it comes to the pandemic.
“It looks like we’ve gone past the crest or the climax of that post-vacation spike that we were really worried about,” said Patel during an interview Monday night. “Could we see something worse anytime soon? Very unlikely given that we have two incredibly effective vaccines available.”
Covid cases, hospitalizations and death rates have all been lower since their highs, according to a CNBC analysis of the Johns Hopkins data. There are 110,628 hospital admissions, the lowest in more than a month. The daily average of cases is down 31% in the past 2 weeks and is at its lowest level in 2 months. The daily average of deaths is 3,088, which is slightly below the most recent high 10 days ago, but still averages over 3,000 per day for 17 consecutive days. More than 73,000 Americans died this month. That’s almost the combined deaths in the US in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Patel noted that it is important to get current vaccines “into people’s arms as soon as possible” and that the vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax “will hopefully soon help arm our vaccine technology.”