Biden’s Indian American nominee for Surgeon General says vaccine may not be any less effective.
Even as India and several other nations suspended flights to the United Kingdom over a new strain of covid-19, Dr. Vivek Murthy sought to assure the public that it was ‘more contagious’ but not ‘more deadly’
Noted Indian American doctor Murthy, whom President-elect Joe Biden has nominated to return to his old job of Surgeon General, said Sunday that a new, more contagious covid strain reported in the UK does not appear to be any deadlier.
“This news from the UK appears to be about a new strain of the virus that’s more transmissible, more contagious than the virus we’ve seen prior to this,” Murthy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“While it seems to be more transmissible, we do not have evidence yet that this is a more deadly virus to an individual who acquires it.” There is also no evidence coronavirus vaccines would be any less effective against the new strain, he added.
“The bottom line is if you’re at home and you’re hearing this news, it does not change what we do in terms of precautions as individuals that can reduce the spread of this virus,” Murthy said.
“It turns out that masking, that keeping physical distance, washing our hands — these are still the pillars of preventing covid transmission.”
Murthy also talked about the transition team’s plans for coronavirus vaccine distribution in 2021. The first dosages are being prioritized for frontline health-care workers, higher-risk groups and the elderly.
“I think when it comes to the vaccine timeline, we all want the vaccine to be delivered as quickly [and] as fairly as possible,” Murthy said when asked whether it was likely to be rolled out to the general population by spring.
“But we also want to be realistic about the timeline. I think that if everything goes well, we may see a circumstance where, by late spring, people who are in lower-risk categories can get this vaccine, but that would really require everything to go exactly on schedule.”
A timeline in which the vaccine is widely available in mid-summer or early in the fall may be more realistic, Murthy said. “We want to be optimistic but we want to be cautious as well.”
Meanwhile India and several other countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Saudi Arabia, have announced restrictions on passenger planes to and from from the UK.
The Indian ministry of civil aviation on Monday also noted passengers from all transit flights arriving from UK scheduled to reach India by Dec. 22 will be subjected to mandatory RT-PCR tests on arrival
The new covid strain has prompted the UK government to impose a tier 4 lockdown across the country and tighten restrictions across England, especially during the festival season.
India has been operating international flights through established transport bubbles with 23 countries, including the UK, and the Vande Bharat Mission since May while regular operations remain suspended since March.
Vivek Murthy endorses Biden to combat corona, heal the nation (August 21, 2020)
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy marries Dr. Alice Chen (August 27, 2015)
Dr. Vivek Murthy could become Surgeon General of the US on December 11 (December 9, 2014)
Sen. Mark Warner gives push to confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General (December 2, 2014)