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tv   White House COVID-19 Response Team Holds Briefing  CSPAN  January 12, 2022 6:00pm-6:34pm EST

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new mobile app. join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages and tweets. >> next we take you to a white house covid-19 response team briefing where officials discussed the omicron variant surge and efforts to increase testing supplies across the nation. >> today we're taking additional actions, including five million free rapid tests to schools each month. and providing another five million lab-based tests each month. jeff: these 10 million additional tests available each month will allow schools to double the volume of testing they were performing in november. the president made it clear, the nation's schools can and should be open and we have given state and local leaders the resources to ensure they can be open. with that, over to dr. walensky.
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dr. walensky: thank you, jeff. good morning. i want to start by walking you through today's data. the current seven-day daily average of cases is about 751,000 cases per day. an increase of about 47% over the previous week. the seven-day average of hospital admissions is about 19, 800 per day, an increase of about 33% over the prior week. and the seven-day average of daily deaths are about 1600 per day, which is an increase of about 40% over the previous week. over the past several weeks, we have seen the number of daily cases increase substantially. the magnitude of this increase is largely related to the omicron variant which now represents about 98% of the covid-19 cases in the country. we continue to learn more about omicron with each passing day, including the very certificatity of disease caused by this variant.
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just yesterday a study of data from kaiser perm nen day southern california analyzed by academic partners with c.d.c. collaboration and funding provided key insight into clinical outcomes among patients infected with the omicron variant. this study used mathematical modeling to estimate risk of hospitalization and severe disease from a health care system that provides care to 4.7 million people in southern california. 19% of the state's total population. and noted a substantially reduced risk of severe clinical outcomes in patients infected with the omicron variant compared with delta. in the study, there were over 52,000 cases of omicron compared with nearly 17,000 cases of delta. displayed on this slide are figures from the study. on these graphs, green represents infections with the omicron variant and purple
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represents infections with the delta variant. when compared to delta, infections with omicron were associated with a 53% reduction in adjusted risk of symptomatic hospitalization displayed in the first panel. a 74% reduction in adjusted risk of i.c.u. admissions displayed in the middle panel. and a 91% reduction in adjusted risk of mortality displayed on the third panel. no patients with omicron required mechanical ventilation. additionally, this study found that those infected with omicron who are hospitalized had a shorter duration of hospital stay compared to those with delta. the duration of hospital stays was approximately 70% shorter with a median of stays being 1.5 days for omicron compared to about five days for delta. looking at all hospital admissions for omicron, 90% of
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patients were expected to be discharged from the hospital in three days or less. this study controls for important key program tiers such as age -- parameters such as age, sex, prior sasser cov-2 infection. the data in this study remain consistent with what we're seeing from omicron in other countries, including south africa and the u.k. and provides some understanding of what we can expect over the coming weeks as cases are predicted to peak in this country. while we are seeing early evidence that omicron is less severe than delta, and that those infected with less likely to require hospitalization, it's important to note that omicron continues to be much more transmissable than delta. the sudden and steep rise in cases due to omicron is resulting in unprecedented daily case counts, sickness,
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absenteeism and strains on our health care system. the risk of hospitalization remains low, especially among people who are up to date on their covid vaccine. however, the staggering rise in cases, over one million new cases each day, has led to a high number of total hospitalizations. as we see hospitals and health systems caring for more and more patients in the midst of staffing challenges and faced with a highly transmissable virus that does not spare our health care workers, we must do our part to help our hospitals and neighbors and reduce the further spread of this virus. as you've heard me say before, we know what works against covid-19. this means getting vaccinated and getting boosted. wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of high transmission and currently that's over 99% of our counties. and testing before you gather with others. thank you.
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i'll now turn things back over to you. jeff: thank you. before i turn to dr. fauci for an update on covid treatments, i want to emphasize that we have more courses of effective treatments now than at any other point during the pandemic. this is the direct result of the biden administration's focus from day one to stop our nation's medicine cabinet -- stock our nation's medicine cabinet with a diverse set of treatments and the action we've taken to expedite research, development, manufacturing and procurement. today i want to provide some context specifically about actions the biden administration took on pfizer's anti-viral pills. last spring the company and the administration agreed to work together to speed up both clinical research and manufacturing timelines. originally the company had projected the clinical trials would not conclude until the middle of this year, 2022. in cutting red tape and sourcing key supplies, the government and pfizer collaborated to
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dramatically accelerate the clinical trial process, shaving about seven months from the original timeline. so, instead of waiting for clinical trial results in mid-2022, we've got those results late last year. and we were able to begin shipping the first pills in december. months ahead of schedule. at the president's direction, we also acted early and aggressively to secure significant supply to pfizer's anti-viral pills. the u.s. has now purchased 20 million treatment courses. working closely with pfizer, we're further accelerating the delivery of these pills so that we'll have the first 10 million by the end of june, instead of the end of september. and we continue to work with pfizer to help them further expand their manufacturing capacity, including through the defense production act, if needed. dr. fauci will discuss these
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pills are meant for those at high-risk of disease from covid. we have a number of other treatment options and we're working to increase our supply of those treatments as well. just this week we completed the purchase of another 600,000 treatment courses of a monday cloabl antibody -- monoclonal antibody treatment. that's all of their available supply. it means the u.s. will have more than one million total treatment courses through the end of man of -- march and we're using every tool at our disposal, including the defense production act, to accelerate delivery of these g.s.k. doses as quickly as possible. lastly, we're also in the process of awarding another half million doses of astrazeneca's preventive therapy for immunocompromised individuals. the federal government was instrumental in the research and development of this product and our latest order will also bring to us over one million doses
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available through the end of march. bottom line, we've acted aggressively to support and secure a diverse portfolio of covid treatments and as a result our nation's medicine cabinet has never been more stocked, with four million effective treatments available in january alone. with that, i'll turn it over to dr. fauci, to talk about each of these treatments and important research into future anti-virals. dr. fauci. dr. fauci: thank you very much, jeff. what i'd like to do over the next few minutes is talk about what jeff referred to as the omicron medicine cabinet. first of all, before i get onto the therapy, i want to underscore the importance that the up to date covid-19 vaccination with boosters prevents severe disease and keeps you out of the hospital, as underscored by dr. walensky. i want to focus now on what happens if you do get sick.
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what are therapies to prevent you to get disease prevention? -- progression? next slide. i really want to refer people to the details what have i'll be saying over the next few minutes that can be easily found in the n.i.h. covid-19 treatment guidelines that are accessible online. very briefly, this is the state of the guidance for clinicians for the treatment of patients with covid-19 and it is a panel which includes representatives from six government agencies with 42 voting members from 10 professional medical societies, academia, and health care systems. we began it in march 24 of 2020. the first guideline was released in april 21 and since then we've had 44 updates in which there were 30 million-plus page reviews. next slide. so let's look at what we have there. there are two major pillars of
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therapeutics. one is to target the virus. and i'll get into those individual drugs in a moment. the other, which i won't speak about very much, but just to let you know that to moderate the immune response and the inflammatory response with late disease, by the therapy shown on this slide, let me show you how that goes when you look at the stages of disease. next slide. as you can see, there is a spectrum from an infected person with no symptoms to an outpatient with mild symptoms, an in-patient not requiring oxygen, low flow, high flow, and then the ultimate, which we'd obviously like to avoid at all cost, mechanical ventilation. one targets the virus early on with some overlap in the later stage with moderating the host response. next slide.
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what we really want to do, amongst several other things, is to prevent people from progressing to serious disease. and you do that by treating people as outpatients. thereby reducing the visit to urgent care settings, to hospitalizations and ultimately deaths. you reduce the duration of illness. you reduce to some extent infectivity and transmission and importantly, particularly, as we're dealing with this extraordinary situation with omicron, you minimize the stress on the health care system. now, the highest priority as always should be given to patients with the highest risk of progression. so let's take a look at that. next slide. the prioritization of therapies first, among omicron, for these patients with mild to moderate disease at high-risk. the numbers on the right show what the clinical trials have
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shown, the relative risk of reduction for hospitalization or death. as you see at the top of the list, the drug that jeff mentioned, paxlovid which received an e.u.a., five days of orel therapy. 89% reduction. sotrovimab which works against omicron. 85% relative risk reduction. remdesivir is an already approved drug, it's used off label with a three-day infusion with a risk reduction. and finally, a five-day oral drug with 30% dim neution. next slide. what about the prioritization of therapies for outpatients among limited resources? now i know this slide has a lot of words on it, you can easily access this if you want to focus on it in the treatment guidelines.
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first and foremost, the immune ow compromised -- immunocompromised. individuals unvaccinated at high-risk. anyone greater than 75 years of age or greater than 65 with a clinical risk factor. next comes the unvaccinated at increased risk. anyone greater than 65 or anyone less than 65 with a clinical risk. and then vaccinated at high-risk or vaccinated at increased risk. again, maybe difficult to remember quickly but they're all in the treatment guidelines. next slide. in addition, what about the pipeline? where are we going? there are a number of phase two and phase iii trials of potential covid-19 therapies that are active or pending and you can go to www.clinicaltrials. gov to see the status of that. there are selective agents in late-stage testing, there are
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antibodies, anti-virals, and others. next slide. there is a program which we started early on-called the accelerated covid-19 therapeutics interventions and vaccines, referred to as active, which many of you may be familiar with. next slide. what does activ do? they have a number of trials, six in number. looking individually at immune modulators, outpatient monoclonal antibody therapies, in-patient monoclonal antibodies, anti-thrombotics and big effect trials and activ-6. that's repurposed drugs. next slide. finally, what's today's
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takeaway? first, to re-emphasize. up to date vaccination is essential. you can go to vaccines. gov, you can text your zip code, you can call. but importantly, to reiterate what i was saying, the therapies and treatment guidelines are available on the website shown here. back to you, jeff. jeff: thanks, dr. fauci. so, before we open it up to q&a, a quick personnel update. we've named dr. tom hingelesby, who is previously director of johns hopkins center for health security, to lead our federal testing program. the doctor is one of the world's leading infectious disease experts and is internationally recognized in the field of public health, preparedness, pandemic and emergent effectiveness -- infectious disease and prevention of and response to biological threats. sorry, tom. we continue to work across multiple fronts to increase americans' access to testing and we're all very, very grateful
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for his willingness to lead these efforts. with that, let's open it up for some questions. kevin? >> thanks. we have time for a few questions. let's go to nbc news. reporter: hi. thanks for taking my question. during dr. walensky's opening remarks she said there was a 40% increase in gettings over the previous quee -- deaths over the previous week. does the c.d.c. expect that those cases are delta-related? since deaths tend to lag cases and hospitalizations? or could it be omicron and just because there's a huge number of cases, there's going to be a larger portion of deaths? thanks. dr. walensky: yeah, that's a really important question. i believe right now that those deaths are still the lagging deaths from omicron. i'm sorry, from dell at it. the lagging death -- delta. the lagging deaths from the delta wave. we've seen that death rates are down from omicron of about 91%.
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and we will need to follow those deaths over the next couple of weeks to see the impact of omicron on mortality, as you know, given the sheer number of cases. we may see deaths from omicron, but i suspect the deaths we're seeing now are still from delta. jeff: next question, please. >> npr. allison? reporter: sorry about that. that was my mute button. thanks for taking my question. i know there's a lot of focus on the quality of masks right now. my daughter's elementary school is handing out n-95's. does the u.s. have enough to go around if everyone were to start wearing these high-quality masks? or would this put stress on -- or short ands needed for n-95 masks for health care workers?
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jeff: why don't i go first. one of the first things we did when we entered office was to significantly improve our manufacturing stock and stockpile of all p.p.e. today n-95 masks are widely available and the government has a strong stockpile of over 750 million masks for health care workers and first responders. c.d.c. recommends americans wear well-fitting masks. this can include multiple layered cloth masks, n-95's or other types. right now we're strongly considering options to make more high-quality masks available to all americans and we'll continue to follow the science here. the c.d.c.'s in the lead but this is an active scenario that we're actually exploring.
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dr. walensky? dr. walensky: yeah. maybe i'll just add that c.d.c. continues to recommend that any mask is better than no mask. and we do encourage all americans to wear a well-fitting mask to protect themselves and prevent the spread of covid-19. and that recommendation is not going change. so maybe i'll just note that we are preparing an update to the information on our mask website, to best reflect the options that are available to people, as you note, and the different levels of protection, different masks provide. and we want to provide americans the best and most updated information to choose what mask is going to be right for them. thank you. jeff: next question, please. >> go to jeff mason at reuters. reporter: thanks very much. good morning. jeff, did you -- could you expand on you what just said about planning to -- or looking at more options to make sure more high-quality masks are available to all americans and can you also give us an update on your thinking with regard to timing in terms of asking
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congress for more money to fund this effort? jeff: yeah, thanks. in terms of the mask, as i said, we're in the process right now of strongly considering options to make more high-quality masks available to all americans. in terms of money, we have the money that we need to fight omicron. as the president has always said, we'll do everything that we need to do to beat this pandemic. and if we do need more money, more funding at some point, we'll request that money. next question. >> a.p. reporter: thanks for doing this. first, there's been a lot of conversation the last few weeks about testing, how that started
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saturday, reimbursement of testing and federal government's testing website is going to come online soon. is there new federal guidelines on how and when people should be testing themselves at home? should it be once a week, twice a week, after an exposure, after they go to the grocery store? for dr. walensky. with that study about omicron versus delta, how does omicron compare to other seasonal illnesses, flu, the cold -- [indiscernible] -- mortality and illnesses and how does that change how the federal government will be speaking about omicron and covid-19 as it becomes endemic? jeff: let's turn to dr. walensky on both. dr. walensky, first, when americans should test. dr. walensky: yeah, so, simply put, americans should take a test when they have symptoms that appear to be covid-19. fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms, muscle aches. when they're exposed so, five
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days after they've been exposed to someone who has covid-19, and certainly if you're going to gather with family, if you're going to a gathering where people are immunocompromised or where they're elderly or where you have people who might be unvaccinated or poorly protected from the vaccine, that might be an opportunity you'd want to test. and then of course other protocols. this study only compared omicron to delta and not to other respiratory viruses. certainly other respiratory viruses, influenza, for example, the severity varies by flu season. this wasn't a direct comparison of omicron versus other respiratory viruses. but what i can say is we are, while we're in this omicron surge, we are also thinking about what this looks like with endemic -- when omicron or covid-19 itself were to become endemic in the united states, following such things as severity of cases, hospital capacity as well. thank you.
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jeff: next question, please. >> "wall street journal." reporter: thank you for taking the call. i wanted to ask a follow-up about the school testing expansion. for these tests that you're making available for k-12 schools, can you clarify, would only public schools be eligible to receive those tests or private schools as well? and can you offer any other detail on where the tests are coming from? you have already inked contracts with certain companies or is that process still ongoing? jeff: let me just step back and say that many schools have a dedicated supply of tests that they secured months ago thanks to the 10 billion i talked about in the opening comments that the american rescue plan gave to schools dedicated for testing. and there is significant lab capacity in this country. so we're working with schools to
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take advantage of the lab capacity that is open in the country. c.d.c. and the department of ed are adding resources to help schools identify testing providers and implement best practices and the federal government is funding and strongly encouraging these testing programs. in total, the 10 million additional tests that we'll send out each month will leverage existing contracting authorities at both h.h.s. and c.d.c. and this will more than double the volume of testing that tooblg place across the -- took place across the nation last year. we'll follow up with exactly which schools qualify for these additional 10 million tests. next question. >> abc. reporter: hi, thank you. my question is also on the school testing.
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we're still seeing school closures. i'm wondering how you expect this $10 million has to be different, specifically how you get schools to use these in an effective, systemic way that keeps them open consistently. jeff: schools do have the resources through the $10 billion that went out with the american rescue plan. these 10 million tests add to the testing availability for schools and as i mentioned is double the testing that was done in the month of november. i think it's important to put testing in the context of the overall school strategies to keep schools open and for that maybe i'll turn to dr. walensky to overview the best practices for keeping schools open. dr. walensky: yeah. thank you. i'd just like to remind people that we had a pretty robust delta surge in the fall and we were able to keep 99% of schools open safely and our children with in-person learning and i will just also highlight that that was before we had pediatric
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vaccinations. so now here we are. we have pediatric vaccinations, one of the best things we can do is get our children and teenagers vaccinated and then once we do so, practicing all those mitigation strategies, masks. we've seen 3 1/2 times less likely to have schools have an outbreak if you're masking in those schools. as well as ventilation and then of course testing strategies with these resources will really be helpful. jeff: next question. >> couple more questions. let's go to med patient. reporter: hi. yeah, thanks for taking my question. during a senate hearing yesterday, janet wood cock mentioned it was going to be difficult for people to get their head around the idea that most of us are going to get omicron. so i wondered what the administration's thinking on that is. are in fact most of us going to
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get omicron and whether they think that's going to happen now during this current wave or is that more looking at as it becomes endemic? jeff: dr. fauci? dr. fauci: thank you very much for that question. what dr. woodcock was referring to when she said most of us will ultimately get omicron is not that most of us were ultimately going to get sick with omicron. remember, she was talking about in the data that we all showed about the extraordinary affect and dichotomy between people who get omicron who get vaccinated and boosted, how well they are protected against hospitalization and death. and even with omicron, it appears as the data that dr. walensky just showed today from the keizer perm nen day study that it's going to be a less severe, particularly in those who are vaccinated and
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boosted. so if we're going to look ahead at what happens when this peaks and ultimately goes down, as i've said on previous pressers here from the white house, that we're not going to eradicate this. we've only done that with smallpox. we're not going to eliminate that. that only happens with massive vaccination programs like we did with measles and the vaccines. but we ultimately will control it. and if you control it in a way that it's such a low level and people are vaccinated and boosted, sooner or later, as we begin to live with it, what she was referring to is that virtually everybody is going to wind up getting exposed and likely get infected but if you're vaccinated and if you're boosted, the chances of you getting sick are very, very low. that's what she was referring to. jeff: next question, please. >> last question. let's go to cbs. reporter: thanks a lot.
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and thank you for having this call. i first have a quick follow-up for dr. walensky. because you said that you do not intend to change the masks guidance but we also know now that some masks provide better protection than others. so why isn't it the case that the best masks for every american is the mask that offers the most protection? and then secondly, do we have enough data about the re-infection of omicron? i think there's a sense out there that if i catch it, i'm not going to get it again. is that true? or do we not know yet? thank you. jeff: dr. walensky, do you want to handle the first question, and maybe dr. fawchy the second? dr. walensky: perfect, yeah. thanks for that question. we're updating the information on our mask website to provide information to the public, it's in need of updating right now. what i will say is the best mask that you wear is the one that you will wear and the one you can keep on all day long, that
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you can tolerate in public indoor settings and tolerate where you need to wear it. we will provide information on improved fill traition and that occurs with other masks such as n-95's and information the public needs about how to make a choice of which mask is the right one for them. but most importantly we want to highlight the best masks for you is the one that you can wear comfortably. thank you. jeff: dr. fauci. dr. fauci: yeah, thank you for that question. there's both sides of the coin to that. we know from the south african data that if you've been previously infected, for example, with delta or with beta, that you have a much higher chance of getting re-infected with omicron than you do with others. there's that side of the coin. but the question you asked is if you get omicron and recover, what are the chances of getting re-infected with omicron. we don't have enough data at this point to really give you any firm indication of that. but as we get more and more
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experience and as we follow koh hotters, we'll be able -- cohorts, we'll be able to have that information for you. jeff: thanks, everybody. we look forward to the next briefing. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2022] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> senate majority leader chuck schumer and house speaker nancy pelosi joined to honor harry reid who died in december. watch at 8:00 tonight on c-span, online at or on our new video app, c-span now. >> c-span's "washington journal." every day we're taking your calls live on the air, on the news of the day. and we'll discuss policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, we'll talk about the government response to the covid-19 pandemic. with pennsylvania republican congressman fred keller. then georgia democratic congressman hank johnson on voting rights legislation in congress. and georgia election laws. watch "washington journal"iv


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