The U.S. has its first case of the new COVID strain originating from Brazil and has more than 300 cases of the U.K. strain, CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced Wednesday.
President Joe Biden has maintained travel bans on the U.K. and Brazil, and added a ban on travel for South Africa on Monday. Minnesota is the first state to report a case of the Brazil strain, and Walensky said 308 cases of the U.K. strain have been found across 26 states. The U.S. has yet to see reports of a case of the South African COVID strain. The announcement came during the new administration’s first coronavirus briefing Wednesday, featuring Walensky, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other U.S. health experts.
“The emergence of variants underscores the need for public health action,” says @CDCDirector. “Now is not the time for travel.”
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) January 27, 2021
Fauci said Jan. 21 that existing coronavirus vaccines have been found to be helpful but less effective against the South African strain. He clarified that it was still effective against the U.K. strain. (RELATED: REPORT: Biden Administration Has Administered Vaccine To Hundreds Of White House Staffers)
The Biden administration announced a ramp-up in the distribution of vaccines to states from 8.6 million doses per week to 10 million. Biden also said states will be briefed on vaccine deliveries three weeks ahead of time. Senior Adviser to the COVID response team Andy Slavitt told reporters that the U.S. does not maintain a large stockpile of vaccines.
“We do not keep a stockpile of a large number of vaccines. We keep a 2 to 3 day supply as a practice. That’s it. The rest moves out to states,” he said at the Wednesday briefing.
The Biden administration seeks to have 300 million Americans vaccinated by the end of summer and is working to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.