Coronavirus cases in the United States near 6 million, as Birx says, don’t wait for vaccine to do the right thing

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“Do the right thing today,” said Dr Deborah Birx. “Because if we do the right thing today, we go into the fall with a lot less cases. ”

As researchers rush to develop a vaccine to control the virus that has infected more than 5.9 million people and killed 183,066 in the United States, health experts and officials continue to say preventative measures, such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and avoiding crowds. can keep infections low and economies open in the meantime. But as the pandemic continues, experts fear the public will be tired or complacent about these measures.

“Right now we’re gaining freedom by wearing our masks and moving away socially,” Birx said.

She called for vigilance, noting that crowds gathered in concert halls can spread the virus, but also people gathered in a backyard.

“We know we can’t always be perfect. We know we’re going to be spreading this post on private gatherings and something is going to happen and you will realize you’ve been in a situation, you’ve been with people, you haven’t ‘You haven’t. don’t have your mask, ”Birx said. “Now is the time to make sure you are protecting others in and around your home by wearing a mask when you are around them, even if they are family.

Vaccine reviews aim to increase public confidence

Birx said she hopes Americans will choose to be vaccinated once data becomes available to show the vaccines being prepared are safe and effective.

A CNN poll this month shows that 40% of Americans do not want to be vaccinated against the coronavirus when it becomes available, even though it is free and easy to access. Such low absorption of the vaccine could interfere with the ability to control the virus and return to normal.

To increase public confidence, several leading doctors and experts have called for the creation of an independent commission separate from the Food and Drug Administration to review data from coronavirus vaccine trials.

“I hear this from my peers, doctors and nurses. They are not anti-vaxxers. They are pro-vaccines. They vaccinated their own children. But they are skeptical about this vaccine, ”said Dr. Kathryn Stephenson, director of the clinical trials unit at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Part of the problem is that the FDA is seen to be tainted due to premature clearance of hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

But Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the US Department of Health Human Services, said eventual approval of the coronavirus vaccine would be the same as for any vaccine.

“There is something called a Data Security Oversight Board, an independent body that is assigned to every clinical trial,” Mango said during a phone call. “We have no idea what the data is until the DSMB says we can look at it. They can come back and say, “This is not a good vaccine.” They could come back before we even have 30,000 registered and say, “We’ve had enough. It looks awesome. “”

Florida and Georgia see their numbers drop

Although the number of cases continues to climb across the country, at least two states that had previously experienced an outbreak are now reporting improvement.

As states ease voting during pandemic, Tennessee moves in the other direction

Georgia’s Department of Public Health reported 1,298 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, marking the first time the state has reported less than 1,300 daily cases in more than two months.

Florida, meanwhile, reported its lowest daily death rate in months on Sunday: 14.

Neither state has met these targets since June 22.

Florida and Georgia are both in the top five states in the country in terms of total number of infections.

“We have power against this virus, but it forces us all to exercise our power together”

The coronavirus continues to be a serious threat in the United States, but the knowledge gained about the virus over the past six months means Americans have the power against it, Birx said.

“We see the numbers on television and in the news every day about the number of Americans who have lost their lives to this virus. We don’t lose as many Americans to a virus like the flu virus every year, ”Birx said during a media appearance in Minnesota. “So this is a serious threat. “

A coronavirus vaccine probably won't be enough

But, she said, the United States knows how to stop transmission.

The past six months of the pandemic have shed some light on why masks are important, that homemade two-ply masks are effective, and physical distance matters, Birx said.

“Not only is the virus real, but the consequences of the virus are real. The hospitalizations that we still have every week are real. The number of Americans that we have lost to this virus is real, ”Birx said. “But what’s also real is that we have a way to prevent it from spreading, and I think that really needs to be a balanced message of ‘we have the power against this virus, but it forces us all to exercise. our power together. “”

CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen, Naomi Thomas, Natasha Chen, Melissa Alonso and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.

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