Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel told CNBC on Friday that he felt it was important that people, especially in schools, continue to wear face covers until a larger percentage of the US population has received a Covid vaccine.
In an interview with the Squawk Box, the former Obama administration’s health advisor said he did not advocate “permanent masks” in society. Rather, Emanuel said he remains concerned about those who are not yet eligible for a vaccine: children under the age of 12.
As soon as children get a Covid vaccination again and more adults are vaccinated, “then the virus will die out because there will be no people at risk. This is where we want to be.” . We are a long way from that, “said Emanuel, who is currently serving as the vice rehearsal for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania.
“When we’re far from this place, we have to vaccinate people. We have to wear masks. We need to improve ventilation in schools, ”added Emanuel, who was the Obama administration’s health advisor from 2009-2011. He also advised President Joe Biden’s transition team on the Covid pandemic.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 52% of the US population are fully vaccinated against Covid, while about 61% have received at least one dose. Of those eligible for the vaccine – ages 12 and up – almost 61% are fully vaccinated and 71.5% have received at least one dose.
Those percentages aren’t enough to really contain the U.S. pandemic, Emanuel said. To improve the uptake of coronavirus vaccines, he proposed that the US adopt a statewide mandate. While this seems unlikely, Biden administration officials have been increasing pressure on companies in recent days to introduce vaccination requirements for employees after the Food and Drug Administration fully approved Pfizer BioNTech’s two-shot vaccine.
“Why do we have this extremely effective intervention and about half of the population are not using it? Some of them are ineligible, but there are many people in the country, as I mentioned among the young teenagers aged 12-15, “who are eligible but not to have access,” said Emanuel.
Full FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine is for anyone 16 years of age or older. The vaccine was approved for emergency use in May for people ages 12-15, while studies are being conducted in younger children.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told NBC News earlier this week that the company expects to have data on children ages 5-11 in September that it would then submit to the FDA.
Moderna, which like Pfizer makes a two-dose mRNA vaccine, filed for full FDA approval in June. The biotech company’s application is still being examined. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for full regulatory approval for its Covid single-shot vaccine.