Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center, told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" that she expects Covid infections to rise further as the new variants of the virus emerge in the US.
"If I run into someone who has any of these variants, the more likely I will get the infection from them, and then again, much more likely that I will transmit it, which means we may have a lot." more infections, "said Bhadelia, medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston Medical Center." And so you could see more infections in February, then lead to more hospitalizations and more deaths in March. "
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday that the dangerous new variants of Covid "continue to be a major problem" although cases are falling across the country. At least 32 states have reported cases of new strains of Covid discovered in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, according to the CDC. Maryland health officials over the weekend reported the state's first case of the South African variant, making it the third known case of the strain in the United States.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that vaccines are the best way to tackle the variants.
"Viruses can't mutate if they can't duplicate," said Fauci.
Bhadelia, a medical worker for NBC News, said that while the vaccines are less effective than the new variants, they can protect people from more severe cases of the virus and overwhelming health systems.
"After 49 days, Johnson & Johnson still has 100% protection, 100% protection from major illness and hospitalization," said Bhadelia. "Any vaccine that turns a disease from fatal to mild will keep people out of hospitals."
The US vaccination efforts are slowly picking up speed, according to the CDC. In the past seven days, the number of people fully vaccinated in the United States has increased 79%, and as of January 31, approximately 1.8% of all Americans were vaccinated.
In addition to vaccinations, the Biden government is working to make home testing more widely available to help slow the spread of Covid. Andy Slavitt, Senior Advisor to the White House's Covid-19 Response Team, announced Monday that the country's first over-the-counter Covid test at home will be available soon. "The test is conducted by a company called Ellume and is on a test platform developed as part of the NIH RADx initiative," he said.
Bhadelia told host Shepard Smith that readily available rapid tests could have a significant impact in fighting the virus.
"People can be clear about whether or not they will get infected, and they could stay home, hopefully not travel, and all of these are ways we could prevent one person from transmitting to another," Bhadelia said . "I think it will make a difference."