(CNN) — The overall picture for COVID-19 in the US looks a little brighter as new infections and hospitalizations decline.
“That’s the good news. And hopefully it will continue on that downward trajectory,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“But we must be careful not to declare victory prematurely in many respects. We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated and who have not yet been vaccinated,” Fauci said Sunday.
“If you look at the history of sudden increases and decreases in cases over a period of time, they can go back up.”
In 45 states, rates of new COVID-19 cases declined or were relatively stable last week compared to the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University Saturday.
Five states – Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania – had at least 10% more new cases last week compared to the previous week.
In Michigan, an emergency room doctor said his hospital is still overwhelmed with patients.
“I had just worked a couple of shifts in a row where I had six, seven people sitting in the emergency department, waiting for beds in other hospitals that didn’t exist,” Dr. Rob Davidson said Saturday.
He said some ambulances “were six, seven hours away from being able to take them to those places.”
About 52% of Michigan residents have been fully vaccinated, down from the national average of 56.4%, according to data Saturday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). .
‘Still too high’
The new covid-19 cases are going “in the right direction: we have less than 100,000 cases a day,” Fauci said on Sunday.
But the US has about 95,000 new infections reported daily, which is “still too high,” he said.
“I would like to see it well below 10,000 and even much lower than that,” Fauci said. “But when you are at 95,000, it is still a situation where you have a high degree of dynamic circulation of the virus.”
And while daily deaths from COVID-19 have declined in recent weeks, an average of more than 1,600 Americans die from COVID-19 every day, according to data from last week from Johns Hopkins University.
Death is not the only terrible result after covid-19
It’s important for people to understand that “not dying from covid is a great thing, but that’s not the only metric we should use,” Davidson said.
He said that at his hospital, some Covid-19 patients have been on a ventilator for more than a month and some have endured invasive procedures to stay alive.
Even if they physically recover, some Covid-19 survivors end up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, due to the time they spend in the ICU, Davidson said.
A study published in February found that 30% of covid-19 survivors experienced post-traumatic stress, which is a psychological illness that usually occurs after someone has a life-threatening experience.
Negative effects were found in infected people in their third trimester of pregnancy, as well as their babies.
Between March and September last year, symptomatic pregnant people in an Israeli hospital had higher rates of gestational diabetes, a lower white blood cell count and experienced heavier bleeding during delivery. Their babies also experienced more breathing problems, reported a research team in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine.
The study has limitations in that it only examined women in one hospital, so its findings may not be true for all pregnant people.
Then there is prolonged covid, when symptoms can last for months after infection.
A large study published last month showed that more than a third of COVID-19 patients suffered symptoms three to six months after becoming infected. Some had multiple lasting complications.
Respiratory problems, abdominal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression were some of the most common problems reported.
The accompanying data showed that up to 46% of children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 22 had experienced at least one symptom in the six months after recovery.
‘Hit the reset button,’ says a senior health official and evangelical Christian
A recent Pew Research Center study showed that white evangelical Protestants were among the adults least likely to get vaccinated.
The director of the National Institutes of Health, who identifies himself as an evangelical Christian, said it is time for that to change.
“Christians, of all people, are supposed to be particularly concerned about their neighbors,” Dr. Francis Collins told CNN on Saturday.
He said that those who are not vaccinated are more likely to become infected and transmit the coronavirus to other people.
But for whatever reason, many evangelical Christians “have had a lot of trouble, in many cases rolling up their sleeves for the vaccine,” Collins said.
“Much of this misinformation is what is so widespread on the Internet, and I think it has caused a lot of people to feel confused or fearful about what vaccines might do to them,” Collins said.
“And that is really heartbreaking when we see, still, more than a thousand people lose their lives due to this disease (daily), almost all without vaccination, and therefore it did not have to happen,” he said.
“If you are a Christian, or if you are someone who has not yet been vaccinated, press the reset button on whatever information you have that is causing you doubt, hesitation or fear, and look at the evidence.”
Vaccinations for children under 5 may not arrive until next year
For children under the age of 5, covid-19 vaccines may not be licensed until early next year, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, said Sunday. .
The FDA is likely to ask for more data and perhaps studies involving more children, because it is a new vaccine and a new virus, Gottlieb told CBS’s Face the Nation.
“And that could take it to 2022. Previously we had talked about trying to have that data available before the end of the year, which could have prompted an authorization perhaps by the end of the year, at least in children aged 2 to 4 years. I think it is more likely to slide into the first quarter of next year at the very least, but not much in the next year, “said Gottlieb, who is also on the Pfizer board.
The FDA has called a meeting of its independent vaccine advisers, the Vaccines and Related Biologics Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), for October 26 to discuss pediatric vaccines. Pfizer has submitted data and a formal application for authorization for its one-third-dose vaccine for use in children ages 5 to 11. But Gottlieb said he hopes the VRBPAC will also discuss what might be necessary for the authorization of younger children.
Having more information to consider can increase people’s confidence in vaccines, Gottlieb said. He is already confident and plans to vaccinate his own young daughters.
“There are many parents like me who, as soon as the vaccines are available for their children, they go out to vaccinate their children, they see the benefits of vaccination,” he said. “There are a lot of parents who still have a lot of questions about vaccination. I think for them, they should have a conversation with their pediatrician to try to get comfortable with the idea of vaccinating their children.”
Gottlieb said he believes it will be years before the CDC recommends that covid-19 vaccines be part of the regular childhood immunization program, which would open the door for school districts that require them.
“I think there is a long way to go. Certainly, the CDC will view teens ages 12-17 differently than teens ages 5-11,” he said.
CNN’s Maggie Fox, Ben Tinker, Lauren Mascarenhas, Jacqueline Howard, and Keith Allen contributed to this report.