Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has revealed she’s “deeply concerned” after the decline Covid-19 cases and deaths stalled amid new variants spreading through the United States.
“I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic,” she said during a White House coronavirus briefing on Monday.
The CDC has closely monitored Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations, and deaths since the start of the pandemic to determine the course of the novel virus. In the last week, data has indicated the decline the country was experiencing over the last two months has stalled.
There has been a 2 per cent increase in average Covid-19 cases over a seven-day period to about 67,200 new infections per day, Dr Walensky said. Deaths have also increased in the last seven days to an average of 2,000 per day.
Despite the apparent stall in decreasing the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, states have continued to roll back mitigation guidelines and reopen businesses – causing concern among health experts.
“I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19,” Dr Walensky said. “At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we gained.“
“Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of Covid-19 in our communities. Not when we are so close,” she added.
Several Covid-19 variants are spreading through the US and causing concern among health experts on if they could cause another surge in the pandemic.
One variant, the B.1.526, was being closely monitored after it was first detected in New York City. This variant shows similar characteristics to a South African variant that has spread in recent months, causing concern it could impact the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.
Both variants feature the E484K mutation, and experts indicated this mutation might have the ability to get past antibodies presented in someone after they receive one of the current Covid-19 vaccines on the market. However, studies have indicated the vaccines were still able to neutralise the virus and prevent severe disease even with new variants forming.
The CDC encouraged the public to continue to follow Covid-19 mitigation guidelines as more and more people receive the vaccine in an effort to prevent another surge.
“We have the ability to stop a potential fourth surge of cases in this country. Please stay strong in your conviction,” Dr Walensky said.
“Ultimately, vaccination is what will bring us out of this pandemic,” she added.