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Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

04/07/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/07/2021 16:16

Dr. Mario Ramirez Talks to MSNBC on Pandemic State of Play, “Double Mutant” COVID Strain

Akin Gump health care and life sciences consultant Dr. Mario Ramirez was interviewed on MSNBC regarding where the U.S. is right now regarding the coronavirus pandemic, as good news and news of spiking cases collide.

Ramirez, who served as acting director of the HHS Office of Global Affairs Office of Pandemic and Emerging Threats in the Obama administration, said that we are seeing 'two competing trends.' The first, he said, is that 'case counts are increasing in about half of the states. But, importantly, they seem like they're going up particularly in younger folks.' The other trend he noted is that 'hospitalization and cases are going down in those persons who are already vaccinated, those older Americans.'

He said that this is what we expected to see: As older Americans were preferentially vaccinated, case counts are going down in that group, which indicates that the vaccines are working.

Ramirez noted that a third piece that is causing concern is that the acceleration of new cases among younger people 'seems to be picking up speed.' Although the mixed messages may be confusing, he noted, the takeaway should be that 'We need to try to get as many of those younger folks vaccinated now as well to help blunt this surge.'

On the 'double mutant variant' strain of COVID, Ramirez said that it should not be a special source of concern: 'This is part of the scientific process, where we continue to discover, and we continue to sequence these things. And there will be many new variants in the future. What we know about this double mutant is that it has two variations that we've seen in different parts of the world that are now combined in a single strain. But the vaccines that we have currently seem like they do work against each of those individual strains, and, so, there's good hope that it should work against this double mutant.'

He cautioned against undue concern over any new strain discovered and noted that a greater cause for concern is those people who get vaccinated and still get sick. Ramirez said that that has not been the case with this new strain yet.

Dr. Mario Ramirez is one of the co-hosts of Akin Gump's newest podcast series OnAir: Health Care. The debut episode can be heard here.