Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security and an adjunct assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday" to talk about updated CDC summer camp guidelines, an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, and what to expect as the country loosens restrictions.
- Joining us is Dr. Amesh Adalja. He's a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. And he's in Pittsburgh. Dr. Adalja, thanks for joining us.
So let's talk about those new CDC guidelines for camps-- specifically, camps that-- where everyone has been vaccinated, can go at full capacity, and maskless. However, it's a bit more complicated when it comes to camps where not everyone has gotten a shot. Are these some of the challenges that we'll be facing-- our schools come September?
AMESH ADALJA: I definitely think that when you have a population that is partly vaccinated, another part is not vaccinated, it's going to be challenging to be able to separate those people out and come up with different policies. But I think policy has to really reflect the fact that these vaccines are extremely effective, that they reduce your ability to get-- to contract this infection. They make you no longer a threat. And I think the guidance has to reflect the fact that if you're fully vaccinated, this is basically kind of the pre-pandemic life for you and, when you're unvaccinated, that there are still going to be some areas that are high-risk. And you might have to take some different measures.
- You mentioned the pre-pandemic life. And I'm thinking about travel this weekend. We're talking about expecting to see a huge number of travelers because so many are vaccinated. Previously-- Christmastime, Thanksgiving-- we saw a surge in cases after travel like this. Will it be different because of those vaccinations this time around?
AMESH ADALJA: I definitely believe that when you have a vaccinated population-- 40% of the US population is fully vaccinated-- that makes it harder for this virus to spread. And you also have people with natural immunity. There are going to likely be unvaccinated people that gather. We may see cases.
But what the goal of this vaccine was was to decouple cases from severe disease, hospitalization, and death. And because 75% of our seniors are fully vaccinated, we're not going to see cases translate into hospitals in crisis again like we did during Thanksgiving, during Christmas, during other gatherings because so many of the high-risk people have been vaccinated.
So we may see some uptick in cases in those unvaccinated people. But we're going to have to start moving away from looking at cases because we're not going to get to zero. What we're trying to do is make this more like a tame respiratory virus that we deal with year in and year out. And I think we're on that trajectory as we get more people vaccinated.
- Doctor, lots of-- as you know, lots of renewed discussion this week about whether COVID was naturally occurring or originated in a lab-- what do you make of what you think we're going to find from the COVID-19 origins report? And will we ever actually get an answer as to where it came from?
AMESH ADALJA: It's going to be challenging to figure out what happened in those early days. We know that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was working with coronaviruses. We know that they've failed to be transparent. We know that we're seeing some contradictory messaging coming from there. But I think the important thing to do is try and get access to the medical records of those people that worked there, those three individuals who were hospitalized in November, trying to understand what viruses they were working with there because there are other coronaviruses we're going to face.
And we need to understand how these viruses emerge, from bats into some intermediate animal or if this came-- if this was an accident in a lab. We need to know that. And we also need to improve biosafety at labs if it is something where there are lapses that occur because this isn't going to be the first time that we deal with dangerous infectious diseases. And I think it's really important that we get to this. And it's really important for the Chinese government to be transparent and allow people to learn from this experience so it never happens again.
- And that certainly is the challenge right now for those looking into it. Dr. Amesh Adalja, thank you.