Twelve states have detected the same coronavirus variant first identified in the UK. To date, there’s no evidence that the available vaccines are not effective against this variant. As such, healthcare professionals continue to urge people to take the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them.
Meanwhile, Get Us PPE continues to push for the production of personal protective equipment, noting that PPE will be necessary throughout the vaccination process.
The Big Picture: Vaccine Promises as COVID-19 Variant Is Detected in the US
An update on the number of infections and deaths from coronavirus: As of February 7th, the United States recorded 107,489 new cases and 2,820 new deaths. These figures bring the number of deaths to 460,582. California, Florida, Texas, and North Carolina recorded the highest number of new cases, with Texas recording 127,521 new cases in the last seven days.
Separately, a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, first identified in the U.K. and known as B.1.1.7, has been detected in at least 12 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The variant could become the dominant strain in the US by March and is 35-45% more transmissible than other strains. Florida and California registered the most cases involving the B.1.1.7 variant, the CDC reports. Although, this data is partial as these results do not represent the total number of COVID-19 cases caused by variants circulating in the United States.
For his part, Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Americans could expect additional vaccine doses by April as the number of available vaccine doses increases substantially. In the meantime, the CDC recommends Americans continue to social distance and wear masks, and get vaccinated as soon as vaccines become available.
PPE Shortages Must Be Met to Safely Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine
In an Op-Ed for Business Insider, Dr. Shikha Gupta, executive director of Get Us PPE, wrote about the PPE shortage within the context of the vaccine rollout. Adding that, “PPE shortages are still severe, especially in our most vulnerable communities.” N95s and nitrile gloves continue to be in short supply, or if available, too expensive for many low-cost clinics and small hospitals to afford. Nitrile gloves, specifically, will be needed during the vaccination rollout, “vaccine workers should wear a new pair of nitrile gloves for each shot,” Dr. Gupta said, “so they need hundreds of millions of pairs for vaccination alone and billions for normal patient interactions.”
Dr. Gupta makes three recommendations to the Biden administration on tackling the PPE shortage and equitably distributing the vaccine and PPE.
- Educate Americans on COVID-19 misconceptions: Wearing a mask and social distancing are still the best defense against COVID-19 during the vaccine rollout.
- Organize equitable distribution of vaccines and PPE by using an allocation algorithm like our Fairness Distribution Algorithm.
- Establish an online marketplace for PPE approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to avoid counterfeit PPE.
The article also calls on Congress to approve the Biden administration’s proposed spending plans to fund programs that will boost PPE production, ramp up testing, and bolster the national vaccination program.
This Week at Get Us PPE
In an article for CBS News, Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and co-founder of Get Us PPE, was asked to rank different types of masks from least effective to most effective. N95s offer the most filtration, and single-layer cloth masks without filters tend to be the least effective.
Dr. Ranney also spoke to CBS News about counterfeit PPE. US Customs and Border Patrol have seized nearly 15 million counterfeit masks. Dr. Ranney explained how these counterfeit masks and other PPE slip through the cracks. Adding that Get Us PPE has tested donated masks and found counterfeit masks in the bunch.
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