White House task force: Vaccine may not reduce virus spread until late spring

White House task force: Vaccine may not reduce virus spread until late spring
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The White House coronavirus task force this week warned governors that coronavirus vaccinations will not drive down the spread of COVID-19 until late spring, calling for states to emphasize the need for other mitigation measures.

"The current vaccine implementation will not substantially reduce viral spread, hospitalizations, or fatalities until the 100 million Americans with comorbidities can be fully immunized, which will take until the late spring," the task force wrote in its weekly report to states, issued Tuesday and obtained by The Hill.

"Behavioral change and aggressive mitigation policies are the only widespread prevention tools that we have to address this winter surge," the report adds.

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The recommendations from the task force come as the United States is likely to approve two vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, respectively, that show upward of 90 percent effectiveness against the coronavirus. It also underscores the degree to which a vaccine will not be an instant cure-all as the pandemic rages across the United States.

"Despite the severity of this surge and the threat to the hospital systems, many state and local governments are not implementing the same mitigation policies that stemmed the tide of the summer surge; that must happen now," the task force wrote.

States across the country have seen positivity rates rise, hospital capacity strained and infections rapidly increase. The United States has recorded roughly 15.3 million coronavirus infections, the most of any country in the world, and more than 288,000 Americans have died of the virus.

Still, President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE on Tuesday boasted that the rapid development of vaccines through Operation Warp Speed would quickly drive down the spread of the virus.

"When America is faced with a challenge, we come through — and we always come through — to overcome every hardship and surmount every obstacle," said Trump, who has largely ignored the pandemic in public since losing the election to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE. "And I think you'll be seeing that over the next few months; the numbers should skyrocket downward."