Politics

Trump CDC Director Redfield: US must ‘learn to live’ with COVID; vaccinate but don’t ‘shut things down’

Amid the emergence of the coronavirus omicron variant, the United States and its leaders must pivot from the year-plus-long tendency of enacting socioeconomic shutdowns, Trump-era Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield told Fox News on Friday.  However, Redfield said, Americans also must remain vigilant of their varying levels of immunity and continue to get vaccinated and boosted when medically appropriate.

Redfield, who notably told Fox News months ago that a new variant would emerge and become the “dominant strain” – as omicron has – told “The Story” that this cycle will continue for the foreseeable future.

“This is the reality of what we’re up against with this current virus, that it’s going to continue to evolve, and if that virus evolves to the point that it has a replication advantage over the dominant variant, it will replace it,” he said.

“When I suggested we would have a new variant to replace delta, I thought there would be a new variant with a replication advantage, particularly with people that have been infected or vaccinated and their immunity is waning. That’s what we’re seeing.”

If Americans don’t follow safety measures against COVID-19, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield warns this could be the worst fall ever, from a public health perspective. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

If Americans don’t follow safety measures against COVID-19, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield warns this could be the worst fall ever, from a public health perspective. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Redfield said the most important act Americans can take is to elect to take vaccine injections. However, he added that the current booster shot recommendations being based on chronology are not completely accurate.

Instead, the U.S. should focus on booster shots based on an individual’s immunity level as verified through other testing, he said. To some extent, Redfield added, that testing ability is not yet at its full potential.

“The most important thing we could have done then and [can] do now is to get people vaccinated – more importantly than just being vaccinated, making sure that you stay vaccinated,” he said. “So this is why additional vaccinations are going to be required – because the immunity to this virus does wane whether you were naturally infected or vaccinated.”

Redfield said that he and his wife recently tested for immunity and found that, despite taking their initial injection at the same time earlier this year, they already varied in their levels of immunity.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, takes his seat for a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, takes his seat for a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
((AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

“It’s not clear whether that will need to be sooner. For those that are older, they’re immune suppressed. If you’ve been injected and boosted with a non-J&J vaccine in the last 60 to 90 days, you’ll be largely protected,” he said.

The vaccine from New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson is a carrier/vector vaccine that can be stored at more normal temperatures, and does not use mRNA as New York-based Pfizer and Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna do.

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,Redfield said that he does not believe the answer to battling COVID and its variants is always to “shut things down.”

“This virus will be with us for the duration. We have to learn how to live with it… I’ve always felt that we need to look at situations and see how to do them in a safe and responsible way,” he said.

“As CDC director, I never advocated shutting down schools. It wasn’t in the interest of the kids K-12. We have to learn how to keep them open in a safe and responsible way. That’s the way I feel now. One of the things we can do is expanded access to testing.”

“I think testing combined with vaccination and some smartness about mitigation steps …  We have to move on.”

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