US top health officials on Tuesday testified before the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on efforts to combat Covid-19, urging people to get vaccinated.
“We are at a critical turning point with the coronavirus and it will depend on continued vaccination to get us back to some form of normality,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases under the National Institutes of Health, Xinhua reported.
“We are in a race between the vaccine and the virus, if left to its own devices, (Covid-19 cases) will continue to surge based on experience thus far in this country and globally,” said Fauci.
“I feel confident that if we continue to vaccinate people at the rate that we’re doing, that we will very soon have a situation where we will have so few infections in this country, we will begin to return to normality that all of us desire so much,” the top infectious disease expert noted.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky echoed Fauci, imploring everyone to get a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible as a way to “end this pandemic”.
She urged parents to get their children vaccinated now that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech shots for children aged 12-15.
“I am so proud to report the administration of more than 261 million vaccine doses,” Walensky said, adding that over 84 per cent of Americans aged 65 and older and over 58 percent of all adult Americans have received at least one vaccine dose.
But “globally, the pandemic is more severe than ever,” she said. “Surge of cases (in India) is tragic and a reminder that the virus can rapidly outstrip our efforts to contain it. If we are not careful, we will not end this pandemic without working hand in hand with countries around the globe to fight Covid-19.”
Along with continuing the effort to vaccinate every American, “we must also maintain public health measures,” namely mask, hand hygiene, and physical distancing, Walensky said.
David Kessler, chief science officer for the federal administration’s Covid-19 response, expressed concerns that vaccination efforts alone won’t end the pandemic.
“I am concerned that even after we finish vaccinating most of the people who want to be vaccinated, by this summer there will still be a significant number of cases and an unacceptable number of deaths,” he said.