The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put forth an opposing view to the Michigan governor’s administration Monday about how to deal with the CCP virus surge, saying the answer to Michigan’s “acute situation” with the virus is not to surge vaccines but to shut down the state and “flatten the curve.”
“The answer to that is to really close things down to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring—last summer—and to shut things down, to flatten the curve,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a Monday press briefing.
“For example, we know that if vaccines go in arms today, we will not see an effect of those vaccines, depending on the vaccine, for somewhere between two to six weeks. So, when you have an acute situation, an extraordinary number of cases like we have in Michigan, the answer is not necessarily to give the vaccine. In fact, we know that the vaccine will have a delayed response,” Walensky added.
On Friday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on the Biden administration to increase supplies of the vaccine to Michigan, particularly the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, to deal with the rising cases.
“The variance in Michigan that we are facing right now won’t be contained if we don’t ramp up vaccinations as soon as possible,” Whitmer said. “We need an additional supply of the one-shot J&J vaccine, which we believe is vital to our strategy of rapidly distributing vaccines and slowing the rise of spread. From public health research we know that the one-shot vaccine is critical to protect younger Michiganders or those who may have difficulty getting back for a second shot.”
She implored citizens to continue wearing their masks, socially distancing, and not gathering in large groups indoors or going to restaurants.
Walensky was responding to a reporter’s question about remarks made Sunday by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, who said the Biden administration should have increased vaccine supplies to Michigan to deal with the rise in hospitalizations and spread of the variant.
“It’s a request that’s been made for weeks now, and I think we should have done it weeks ago,” Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Whitmer echoed Gottlieb’s sentiments about the need for more vaccines in her state. “So, I’m urging the federal government to create a vaccination surge program to help states like Michigan now because it’s Michigan and the Midwest today, and tomorrow or next week it could be the Northeast or the south or another part of our country.”
But Walensky said the effect of vaccines is delayed, and is therefore not a viable strategy for dealing with the current surge.
“I think if we tried to vaccinate our way out of what is happening in Michigan, we would be disappointed that it took so long for the vaccine to work, to actually have the impact,” added Walensky.
Walensky added that other states also need the vaccine, “and we don’t know where the next place is going to be that it’s going to surge.”
White House officials say they are not allocating doses to states based on surges, but by population. However, Whitmer did say that the federal government has pledged more therapeutics, mobile units, testing supplies, and vaccinators for Michigan to help with the hot spots.
White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt said during Monday’s briefing that the variants present in Michigan are also present in other states and his officials have to “follow the science.”
“Our ability to vaccinate people quickly in all of each of those states—rather than taking vaccines and shifting it to playing Whack-a-Mole—isn’t the strategy that public health leaders and scientists have laid out,” Slavitt said at a briefing. Michigan has the second-highest number of the UK variant of the CCP virus.