EXCLUSIVE: “There is going to have to be a moment where we are, unfortunately, but comfortably living in equilibrium with this virus,” Dr. Kizzy tells theGrio.
The concern this holiday is not just about turkey prices or their availability for the Thanksgiving dinner table. Scientists and others are also watching the spike in COVID-19 cases as Americans gather indoors for communal activities this week.
Holiday travelers pass through Los Angeles international Airport on Thanksgiving eve as the COVID-19 spike worsens and stay-at-home restrictions are increased on November 25, 2020 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently said there has been an increase in hospitalizations of vaccinated Americans. Dr. Fauci is strongly encouraging boosters as the next course of action to guard against disability or death from the coronavirus for those who are already immunized.
The lead scientist who helped create the Moderna vaccination, Dr. Kizzmekia “Kizzy” Corbett, confirmed with theGrio that there is an increased number of COVID infections, saying, “there is currently a little slight uptick happening right now.”
Dr. Corbett acknowledged that the presence of COVID-19 is likely to stay, but it’s important that Americans do all they can to guard against it.
“I think that what we are going to have to realize is that there is going to have to be a moment where we are, unfortunately, but comfortably living in equilibrium with this virus,” said Dr. Corbett, adding, “it’s not that the virus is going to go away, you just want to make sure that when that tick gets to your front door, when that rise in cases gets to your neighborhood, that you’re protected in the best way that that is possible.“
Corbett said it’s a matter of when not if one will get COVID. Preparation against the virus, she said, continues to be vaccination and mask wearing. This will be a “hard reality” for most, Dr. Corbett acknowledged.
“Herd immunity, I think, as it was described, initially was something that is thought about, okay, we get to a point in the population where 80, or 85% of people have immunity to the virus, and it’s described as if the virus just goes away — but that’s not what happens,” Corbett explained.
“What happens is there are so many roadblocks in the population, because so many people are immune, that the virus kind of shifts, and then it goes over to a population that is less or protected,” she added.
Dr. Corbett also addressed concerns about mutation of the virus and the vaccine not protecting the population from it. The scientist said she’s not fearful of an all-powerful mutation because of the current efficacy of the vaccine.
“It will take a very large amount of mutations to completely escape vaccine induced immunity,” said Dr. Corbett.
“More mutations, here or there, may take your efficacy down a notch or two … you might go from 94% to 84%,” she said, but ultimately, “if it doesn’t have anywhere to go, it doesn’t have anywhere to make mutations. And that’s where we want to get.”
A health worker gives a man a shot of the Jenssen COVID-19 vaccine from the Johnson & Johnson. (Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images)
Currently 82% of adults have at least one shot of a vaccine and 71% of adults are fully vaccinated, according to CDC tracked data.
Scientists are encouraging the public to continue to take the virus seriously.
Dr. Alison Galvani, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at Yale University, told theGrio that “we’ve become numb to the death toll” which is still over 1,000 a day.
“That’s more deaths each and every day than Australia has had over the entire pandemic,” she added.
“Just because we’re done with COVID, doesn’t mean that it’s done with us. I am quite concerned about another surge as people gather for the holidays. Vaccination, including boosters, and rapid at-home COVID tests will mitigate the risks. Personally, I wouldn’t gather with anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated.”
Now, federal officials are opening vaccinations up to all Americans as the call for boosters is already sounding.
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