BA.2. New White House powered by COVID czar calls for calm as cases rise

BA.2.  New White House powered by COVID czar calls for calm as cases rise

BA.2. New White House powered by COVID czar calls for calm as cases rise

Dr. Ashish Jha has just started in the role of White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator.

Alice Amendola / Associated Press


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Alice Amendola / Associated Press

BA.2. New White House powered by COVID czar calls for calm as cases rise

Dr. Ashish Jha has just started in the role of White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator.

Alice Amendola / Associated Press

The US should use the moment when coronavirus cases are relatively low to prepare for a “potential” surge in the future, according to an assessment by the new White House coronavirus response coordinator.

Monday was Dr. Ashish Jha’s first official day in the role and he took charge at a critical juncture in the pandemic. Congress has yet to approve funding that will cover the cost of tests, vaccines and life-saving treatments, and there are concerns that delays could hinder access to all three.

COVID cases across the US have also increased slightly over the past week, especially in the Northeast, with the BA.2 version now in major strain, following a mostly downward trend since peaking in January.

Jha said that despite these outstanding concerns, he is happy with where the country stands in the pandemic.

“If you think about where we are as a country, we are in a really good moment,” Jha said. “Infection numbers are relatively low. We have fewer people in hospital right now than there are at any point in the pandemic.”

“Obviously, we want to keep infections down, but the goal is not to eliminate all infections. The goal should be to keep infections down and to protect people from serious illness.”

According to Dr. Monica Gandhi, infectious disease physician at UCSF, there is data to support Jha’s positive outlook.

“We have a lot of immunity in this country. And I think hospitalizations are reflecting that,” he said, noting the relatively high level of vaccination numbers, as well as the recent omicron surge. Natural immunity after.

Deciding Epidemic Restrictions at the Local Level

Despite Jha’s optimism, the recent spread of the BA.2 version has prompted some to rethink health measures and restrictions.

Last Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, warned that the US could follow the trend of the United Kingdom and see an increase in BA.2 cases.

On Monday, Philadelphia announced it would restore its indoor mask mandate from April 18 after a 50% increase in cases over the past 10 days, making it the first city in the country to announce the move.

Asked whether he envisioned a wider return to pandemic restrictions, Jha said local governments had a bigger role to play.

“These are decisions that should always be made at the local level, so I liked the quality of what Philadelphia is doing,” Jha said. ,[These decisions] Really inspired by the ground realities.”

BA.2. New White House powered by COVID czar calls for calm as cases rise

While trust in federal and state government varies across countries, Jha says, “people generally have very strong relationships with their local government.”

Noah Seelam / AFP via Getty Images


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Noah Seelam / AFP via Getty Images

BA.2. New White House powered by COVID czar calls for calm as cases rise

While trust in federal and state government varies across countries, Jha says, “people generally have very strong relationships with their local government.”

Noah Seelam / AFP via Getty Images

While some Americans feel a sense of normalcy is returning to daily life, Jha said it was important for people to remember that the pandemic was not over.

“We are likely to see a jump in the future. We may get another version, we don’t know,” Jha said. “That should be the strategy. Not so much predicting what’s really going to happen, but preparing for any event that Mother Nature throws at us.”

Gandhi agreed that we cannot predict the future, but said it was not left entirely to chance.

“It’s not really Mother Nature, it’s really more that we have the tools right now,” she said, noting that the White House already has a well-developed plan with its COVID-19 preparedness. is strategy.

The plan, which was unveiled on March 2, has four parts:

  • Prevent and treat COVID-19 (using vaccines and anti-viral treatments)
  • Prepare for the new variant
  • stop the economic and educational shutdown
  • continue to vaccinate the world

“since [Jha’s] Now in charge of that COVID preparedness plan, I will continue to reiterate its four elements, because I think they are extremely powerful,” Gandhi said.

Interview for Radio with Dr. Ashish Jha was produced by Vincent Acovino and edited by Courtney Dorning.