- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 3, 2021

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Sunday that projections of post-holiday novel coronavirus deaths are “pretty scary,” but expressed optimism that the situation will improve if people stick to the public-health best practices.

“What I want people to know is that the projections are pretty scary, but they’re projections, and what we do now matters,” Dr. Adams said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He urged those who gathered over the holidays without masks or social distancing to self-quarantine and get tested, saying that more than 50% of the spread is now occurring among asymptomatic patients.

“I want people to understand that in the midst of tragedy, I’m still optimistic,” Dr. Adams said. “Less than a year after getting this virus sequenced, we’re going to have 20 million doses delivered within a month after actually getting the EUA [emergency use authorization].”

He added: “I want people to understand that if we get over this current surge, then things will start to get better, but it depends on the actions that we all take right now.”

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has projected a post-holiday surge that could result in more than 567,000 deaths by April 1. The U.S. death toll surpassed 350,000 on Saturday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

At the same time, more than 4.2 million U.S. residents have received as of Saturday the initial doses of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with 1.5 million doses in the last 72 hours alone, Dr. Adams said.

Dr. Adams said the vaccination and therapeutics are expected to work against the new, more contagious coronavirus strain cropping up in several states.

He said that he and infectious-disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci have discussed treating the variant, known as B.1.1.7, which was first detected last month in the United Kingdom and has since been identified in patients in Colorado, California and Florida.

“The most important thing for people to note is that, talking with our colleagues in the U.K., talking with Tony Fauci, who I had a conversation with for a long time yesterday, we do not so far feel that this new strain or these new strains will be resistant to the vaccines or the therapeutics that we have available,” Dr. Adams said. “So that’s good news.”

He said that he was unaware of whether the strain of SARS-CoV-2 could be described as widespread, “but it’s here. It’s in many other countries.”

“The bottom line is we have the tools regardless of the strain to be able to defeat this virus,” said Dr. Adams. “We just need the will to actually follow through and do the things we know will help us.”

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