Despite concern over coronavirus mutations, top health officials offer glimmer of hope

After months of mounting coronavirus cases, are we starting to see a turnaround? Health officials report some positive trends, but say we need to be cautious when looking at the data.

At the first coronavirus briefing under the Biden administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci gave Americans a glimmer of hope.

"It looks like it might actually be plateauing in the sense of turning around," he said.

But, Fauci reminded us to remain cautiously optimistic as we keep track of the numbers.

"So you have almost a paradoxical curve where you see something plateauing and may be coming down," Fauci said. "But, at the same time hospitalizations and deaths might actually be going up."

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California's Health and Human Service Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly reported a similar downward trend.

"We are seeing less than 20,000 cases reported today statewide - that's the first time in awhile," he said. "I think the regional stay-at-home order that the governor put in place made a difference over the winter holidays of Christmas and New Year's and we're starting to see that pay off now."

On the vaccine front, Ghaly said the rollout started slow because local hospitals were dealing with patient surges at the same time. But the pace is picking up.

"We saw a radical increase going from about 47,000 vaccines given in a day to over 110,000 vaccines given a day across the state," he said.

Fauci said early evidence shows new coronavirus variants may decrease the current vaccines' ability to help the body make antibodies, but said, "It is all the more reason why we should be vaccinating as many people as you possibly can."

Fauci explained viruses don't mutate unless they replicate. And the current vaccines can still suppress transmission.

"Then you could actually avoid this deleterious effect that you might get from the mutations," he said.

While the South African variant may be more concerning that the U.K. one, Fauci said it can still be managed.

He added that if we vaccinate 70 to 85% Americans by the end of summer, we could see some degree of normalcy returning in the fall.
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