U.S. officials discuss COVID-19 case counts and variants

Jan. 28, 2021

The new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky, MD, said there were some hopeful signs the pandemic was stabilizing but also warned of threats from COVID-19 variants, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

Walensky – ­ who was speaking at a White House press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic – said the 7-day average for new cases has decreased across the county by 21 percent to 160,000 per day, and the 7-day average of new hospitalizations decreased by 15 percent to 3,000 per day.

"I am encouraged by our trends, but case rates remain high, and our most recent models show 479,000 to 514,000 deaths will be reported by February 20," Walensky said. "This is not news we want to hear."

Walensky also warned of the growing threat of COVID-19 variants. She said the CDC has identified 308 B117 variant cases in 26 states, and one P1 variant in Minnesota. To date, the United States has no reported cases of P1351, known as the South African variant.

Anthony Fauci, MD, the Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, also spoke about the variants, saying he was confident the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would offer at least some protection against new strains. He said the bigger threat would be that monoclonal antibody therapies currently in use might be less effective against variants.

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