White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx warned Sunday that the first COVID-19 vaccines expected to be rolled out this month are “not going to save us from this current surge.”
“I want to be very frank to the American people: The vaccine’s critical. But it’s not going to save us from this current surge,” Dr. Birx said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Only we can save us from this current surge. And we know precisely what to do. So if you have loved ones you want to protect, you have to follow these guidelines now.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that weekly coronavirus hospitalization rates “have been climbing sharply and are now at an all-time high,” reporting Friday an additional daily increase of 214,099 cases and 2,439 deaths.
“I think what’s really critical for people to understand that our hospitals normally in the fall and winter run between 80 to 90% full, just caring for our routine health,” Dr. Birx said. “So when you add 10, 15, 20% COVID-19 patients on top of that, that’s what puts them at the breaking point.”
Dr. Birx urged Americans to adhere to public-health recommendations, including wearing masks indoors, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and “stopping our gatherings outside our households.”
The CDC already has warned Americans against traveling during the winter holiday season.
The first vaccines are expected to be shipped to states on Dec. 15. White House vaccine czar Moncef Slaoui said the first vaccines would be delivered “on the day after the vaccine is approved” by the Food and Drug Administration.
“If the vaccine is approved on the 10th or the 11th, the minute it’s approved the shipments will start. It should take them about 24 hours to make it to the various immunization sites that the various jurisdiction and states have told us to ship vaccines to them,” Mr. Slaoui said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And within, I would say, 36 hours from approval, potentially the first immunization could be taking place.”