CDC will send funding and ‘support’ to South Carolina to speed its vaccine rollout in an effort to stop the South African variant from taking hold there
- CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said the agency is offering ‘support’ to states where variants threaten to spread
- South Carolina will get funding and ‘resources for increased testing, surveillance and vaccination’
- South African ‘super-covid’ was detected there on Thursday in two unconnected people with no travel history, suggesting it is spreading silently already
South Carolina will get extra vaccination support from the CDC in an effort to speed the rollout and stop the South African variant of coronavirus detected there on Thursday from spreading, agency director Dr Rochelle Walensky said Friday.
She said the CDC is ‘offering support’ to states that detect super-covid variants, but only mentioned South Carolina by name.
Two people in South Carolina have the South African B1351 variant of coronavirus, which is about 50 percent more infectious and makes vaccines less effective.
Neither had recently travelled, they live in different regions of the state and otherwise unlinked, suggesting the variant is spreading silently in South Carolina.
Vaccines still offer some protection against the ‘super-covid’ variant, and the more people have some immunity, the less likely it is to become dominant.
Fewer than six percent of South Carolina residents have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose – about 360,000 people – which is below the national rate of 6.8 percent of the population vaccinated with one or more doses.
CDC and South Carolina health officials did not immediately respond to request for details on the amount of funding or nature of the resources being sent to the state.
But Dr Walensky said that even as the agency ramps up surveillance for variants and funnels assistance to states that have them, it may be too late.
‘By the time someone has symptoms, gets a test, has a positive result, and we get sequencing, our opportunity for case control and contact tracing is largely gone,’ she said.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, CDC director said Friday that the agency is sending funds and ‘resources’ to speed up the COVID-19 vaccination effort in South Carolina in light of the South African variant discovered there
‘CDC is offering support to the states that have identified these surveillances…we are reaching out to help with vaccination..with resources for increased testing, increased surveillance and increased resources for vaccination and funding.’
South Carolina vaccinated 360,000 people on Thursday, up from 210,000 the previous Thursday, according to tracking by Bloomberg.
The state is also one of the worst hotspots in the nation, according to White House data.
Previously ‘hidden’ reports reveal that South Carolina is seeing more than 750 new cases per 100,000 people there each week.
It’s unclear whether this high rate of new infections is linked to the new variant.
The South African variant of coronavirus detected there contains mutations to its spike protein that makes it better at infecting human cells.
Its mutations make also make it harder for antibodies triggered by vaccines to ‘see’ the virus and block its ability to block the activity of the spike protein.
Previously ‘hidden’ reports reveal that South Carolina is seeing more than 750 new cases per 100,000 people there each week
Moderna’s vaccine is still ‘protective’ against it but its antibodies are six-fold less potent when faced with the South African variant.
It comes as FEMA comes to the aid of state vaccination efforts.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has asked the Pentagon to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine to meet Joe Biden’s goal of 1.5 million shots a day.
The Pentagon’s top spokesman announced Thursday it had received a request to assist with getting shots in the arms of Americans across different parts of the country.
‘The Department of Defense has received a request from FEMA for assistance in administering COVID-19 vaccine at various locations across the country.
‘The Department is evaluating the request, and what kinds of support it can provide,’ Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
Kirby said that ‘given the significance of the request it will be reviewed urgently but carefully’ to determine what military assets can be safely made available to help the vaccine rollout.
‘As [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] has said, DOD is committed to do as much as it possibly can to assist the whole-of-government effort against COVID-19,’ he added.