White House health advisor Michael Osterholm has admitted a “message” problem on Covid-19 and what activities vaccinated people can now do, while also raising concerns about a “fourth wave.”
Confronted about public confusion over whether air travel is safe or mask-wearing is still required for those who have been vaccinated against the virus, Osterholm, who is on the White House Covid-19 advisory board, warned that vaccinations are not complete protection.
“It’s not perfect, it’s not 100 percent [protection from COVID-19],” he said of the three vaccines in the US.
He admitted, however, there is a “problem” in conveying this message to the public.
“We do have a problem right now from a public health standpoint nuancing that message,” he said, warning that Americans should still avoid air travel if it’s “nonessential.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its health guidances to say vaccinated people can safely travel – though they still recommend mask-wearing – but health officials have been cautious about recommending air travel.
“I would advocate against general travel overall. Our guidance is silent on recommending or not recommending fully vaccinated people travel. Our guidance speaks to the safety of doing so. If you are vaccinated it is lower risk,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said this week.
In a separate interview on CBS, Osterholm referred to vaccines as “a fireproof suit that works 95 percent of the time.”
“I think the message was consistent, although it may have confused the public,” he said.
Though he claimed a “bright future” could be ahead as soon as this summer as far as Covid-19 restrictions being lifted, Osterholm also warned of Covid variants creating a “new pandemic” and a “fourth wave” of surging cases, though he says vaccines have been successfully combating variants at the moment.
“I believe that, in some ways, we’re almost in a new pandemic,” he told Fox News. “The only good news is that the current vaccines are effective against this particular variant B.1.1.7.” he said, noting the variant could be more prevalent in spreading among children.