Even after being fully vaccinated against Covid, some public health precautions will still be needed before further data can be collected on the vaccines, said Dr. Kavita Patel told CNBC on Friday.
It is clear that Pfizer and Moderna's two-shot vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness and death from Covid-19, Patel said in a "Squawk Box" interview. Currently, it is less known how well the vaccines reduce coronavirus transmission.
In other words, someone who has been vaccinated has greatly reduced their risk of actually getting the coronavirus, but Patel claims that precautions will still be needed in the coming months when a small group gathers and one person in this one Group was not vaccinated.
"If you live in a household with young children [who have not yet qualified for the vaccine] or even children at increased risk … or even yourself, if you are at increased risk despite being vaccinated, you should take precautions to avoid wear masks when inside. Stay outside with people if possible, "said Patel, a Washington, DC general practitioner and non-resident of the Brookings Institution.
"The only reason I'm saying this is that we need more data to understand the risk of transmission," she added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week updated their quarantine guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated. Both Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines require two doses for complete protection. The CDC now says people exposed to the coronavirus won't need quarantine within three months of being fully vaccinated if they don't develop symptoms.
Like Patel, the CDC recognizes that the risk of one vaccinated person passing the virus on to another is "uncertain". The reason for the modified quarantine policy, according to the CDC, lies in the vaccines, which are highly effective in preventing the development of symptomatic Covid.
This is important because, according to the CDC, it is believed that people with Covid symptoms transmit the virus more than asymptomatic people. Because of this, the agency said a fully vaccinated person who shows no symptoms does not need to be quarantined.
The CDC defines full vaccination as two weeks after receiving the second vaccine with two doses, or two weeks after receiving a vaccine with a single vaccine. Johnson & Johnson has filed for emergency approval for its single-dose vaccine and an advisory panel will look into it at a meeting later this month.
Patel said she believes the CDC quarantine guide could be updated again if more Americans are vaccinated. But at this stage of the pandemic, she said, the US is in "an interim period." Although she said roughly one in three Americans has either been vaccinated or developed natural antibodies to coronavirus because of a previous infection, "the other two people still have plenty of opportunities to encourage the virus to spread, especially given these more communicable variants. " . "
To illustrate this, Patel offered insights into her personal approach to aspects of life after she was vaccinated. The former Obama administration official said she continues to wear a mask in public despite being confident she will not get sick and die from Covid.
"I'm still doing all of the things we talked about – that we're pretty tired of – until we have more data that I [the virus] can't share with someone who hasn't been vaccinated," said Patel, who served as political director for the Bureau of Interstate Affairs and Public Engagement at the Obama White House, where she worked on health initiatives.
However, Patel said there were reasons to be optimistic and mentioned how she was thinking about the possibility of seeing her parents soon. "Because I've been vaccinated and after they went in a few weeks after that second dose, I'll be more comfortable talking about risks because it's not 100% that they don't catch the virus, but I feel comfortable when I have one. " little gathering with them when we are all vaccinated together, "she said.
While vaccine availability is currently limited, Patel noted recent comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci on NBC's "TODAY" Show. The nation's leading expert on infectious diseases expects it to be "open season" for Covid vaccinations by April. If Fauci's forecast comes true, Patel believes that by the summer more Americans will be able to gather together safely.
"As the months go by, more people in your household, and possibly in another household, like your parents or grandparents, will be vaccinated, which could make smaller gatherings safer," said Patel. "We can look forward to that, because we've been holding back for over a year, some of us, to see older parents and relatives at high risk."