Doctors concerned about possibility of fourth COVID-19 surge

COVID-19 variant concerns

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made an emotional plea to Americans Monday about the spread of Covid-19.

Cases are increasing in some parts of the country and health officials are concerned about a fourth surge.

“I’m going to pause here. I’m going to lose the script. And, I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” said CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, M.D. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But, right now, I’m scared.”

Doctors in Louisiana share that concern. Ochsner’s Medical Director of Global Health Education, Dr. Yvens Laborde, says the variants are what keeps him up at night. B117, also known as the U.K. variant, is expected to soon become the dominant strain.

“You look at France right now, they are actually experiencing another surge and you can rest assured that surge is due to the B117 variant, so, I can easily see a scenario of the same circumstances actually happening here -- where we have the vaccine, but it’s not distributed widely and effective enough. And we have an emerging strain, the B117, which is more transmissible and highly infective and potentially more lethal,” said Laborde, M.D.

The LSU Health Genetics Chair, Dr. Lucio Miele, says there are also two other dangerous variants in the United States, the Brazilian and the South African.

“I am very concerned. What we have right now is a little over 15% of the population in the United States covered by a complete vaccination cycle and about double that with a single injection. That’s not nearly enough. That means we have at least 70% of us still vulnerable,” said Miele, M.D.

New Orleans Health Department Director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, says cases in the city have been holding steady but she worries about Spring Break travel.

“I worry about families traveling to hot spot areas, like Florida and Texas, for a week and everybody letting their guard down. So, it’s a lot harder to stick to our guidelines and then bringing something back, you know, it really is a race against time. We have got to get everybody vaccinated before these variants take hold,” said Avegno, M.D.

Experts are asking Americans to keep practicing mitigation measures and to get vaccinated.

“What we need to do now is protect vulnerable individuals by defeating vaccine hesitancy and maintaining the measures we have all been maintaining for the past several months, which is wearing masks, social distancing, etc., it’s too early to declare victory,” said Miele.

“I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC Director, not only as your CDC Director but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer,” said Walensky.

Ochsner’s Medical Director of Global Health Education says data is showing that all three vaccines offered right now in the United States are highly effective against the B117 variant.

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