CDC says COVID variant found in India not of concern in US yet

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is monitoring the COVID-19 variant surging in India, but says it is not a variant of concern even though the World Health Organization said the opposite Monday.

"It has been shown to be more infective and transmissible, at least anecdotally within India, compared to the previous surge that India had seen," said Dr. Anu Seshadri, who specializes in primary care and is affiliated with UCLA.

"We have to be vigilant and aware of this variant," she added.

On Tuesday, India confirmed nearly 390,000 new cases, including 3,876 more deaths. Overall, India has had the second highest number of confirmed cases after the U.S. with nearly 23 million and over 240,000 deaths. All of the figures are almost certainly a vast undercount, experts say.

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Meanwhile, in the U.S., the COVID-19 vaccine could be headed into the arms of 12- to 15-year-olds by Thursday, paving the way for what could be an activity-filled summer and a more normal school year in the fall.

"I'm really feeling encouraged about the safety thus far and what we know about these vaccines for my children, and I'm really looking forward to protecting them before they go to camp this summer and their protection also protects me and my parents," said Ying-Ying Goh, the director of the Pasadena Public Health Department.

Doctors say vaccinating children is key to reaching herd immunity, and so many kids have suffered and lacked development during a year of isolation.

"Shouldering additional degrees of anxiety and depression and other mental health and behavioral health impacts," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of Califorina's Health and Human Services Agency.

"The fact that we can now provide a certain degree of confidence and protection to those young people to start to resume activities, visit more with friends and families and friends, I think it's a tremendous opportunity for that group to experience that sense of normalcy they've been missing," Ghaly added.

But a survey of roughly 1,000 parents from the national organization ParentsTogether found parents are 17% less likely to say they will definitely or probably vaccinate their children compared to vaccinating themselves.

This indicates increased levels of hesitancy and questions about the necessity of vaccinating children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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