Epidemiologist Urges U.S., Vaccinate 1st Dose ASAP, As Virus Mutates

One complication of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is that it requires two doses. Another is that the virus has not been shut down, and is now mutating. A new starin has been identified in 33 countries, and it’s more contagious than the last. Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding is urging the U.S. to go forward with a plan that would focus on getting the first dose into as many people as possible, and put off the second dose for later.

vaccinate as many as possible
[Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images]

Dr. Feigl-Ding has been working to communicate his concerns to the public. Tweeting New Year’s Eve, he quoted University of California at San Francisco’s Chair of Medicine, Dr. Bob Wachter, who says his views on the matter have shifted.

Wachter says that with the new variant being discovered, and the understanding that the first dose of the vaccine can provide about 80% protection, and the rollout of the vaccine being so much slower than the highest hopes, getting a first dose to as many people as possible might provide more protection for the nation, compared to getting a much smaller number of people both doses.

Dr. Feigl-Ding explained that the new variant is more contagious, but doesn’t seem to be more lethal or more severe. However, he warned, this still increases the risk of fatal exposure, since the increased contagion means that more people will likely contract the virus, compared to what would happen if the variant was more severe, but less contagious.

He’s seconding the call for the U.S. to move forward with the proposal to get the first dose of the vaccine to as many people as possible, in the hopes that it will be enough to offer the nation some protection.

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