The White House COVID-19 response team and federal public health officials held a press briefing Monday to provide an update on the pandemic situation in the U.S. and the latest efforts by the Biden administration to rollout COVID-19 vaccines.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said COVID-19 variants “remain a great concern” in the U.S., and that at least 33 jurisdictions reported 471 variant cases as of Jan. 31. Walensky also reported that one case of the COVID-19 variant first detected in Brazil has been confirmed in Minnesota.
Top U.S. infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed vaccine efficacy against new variants of the virus, stating that people still “need to get vaccinated when it becomes available.” Fauci said “viruses cannot mutate if they don’t replicate,” adding that if the replication is stopped by vaccinating, “you will not get mutations.”
White House COVID-19 advisor Andy Slavitt also announced that the U.S. government has awarded a $230 million contract to scale up production of a COVID-19 home test recently authorized by U.S. regulators. Slavitt said the over-the-counter test kit from Australian manufacturer Ellume can detect COVID-19 “with roughly 95 per cent accuracy within 15 minutes.”
As of Monday, the United States had over 26 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 440K deaths due to the virus.
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