Via Teleconference Washington D.C. May 25 1:34 P.M. EDT
ACTING ADMINISTRATOR SLAVITT:
Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us. Today, one of my goals is to avoid embarrassment, and therefore, I will focus my remarks squarely on the serious business of the progress of vaccinating the country.
So I begin by talking about VAX-a-Million. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has unlocked a secret: People do care about getting vaccinated, but it turns out they also have other things they care about. Some of those things might encourage people to think about what might otherwise be a lower priority. So, every week for the next five weeks, one Ohioan will win $1 million. The only way to win is to get vaccinated. Vaccines — patriotic, free, good for your social life, and a chance to win.
In the days after Ohio announced the program, the state saw a 55 percent increase in its vaccination rate among younger adults 20 to 49 years of age. In several counties, the rate of vaccination doubled compared to before the announcement. In other words, the program is working. Since then, we've seen more states, including Maryland, New York, and Oregon announce similar programs. We are nothing if not responsive to good ideas.
Today, the Treasury Department issued new guidance on these programs, providing additional information on how federal funds in the American Rescue Plan can be used for vaccine incentive programs.
And the bottom line is: With this guidance, we encourage states to use their creativity to draw attention to vaccines and to get their states and the country back to normal as quickly as possible. This includes lottery programs for vaccinated individuals — cash or in-kind transfers or other monetary incentives — for individuals to get vaccinated.
Dozens of businesses and organizations have also responded to the President's call to action to volunteer their services and help the American people get vaccinated. For example, yesterday, United Airlines announced that every day in the month of June, they're giving away two round-trip, first-class tickets to anywhere in the world if you are vaccinated, and they will give away five sets of round-trip tickets to travel anywhere in the world for an entire year. The only way to qualify is to get vaccinated.
So people may say all of this is frivolous. I say: Anything that ends the pandemic, it's time for us to pull out now.
For those on the fence, find whatever reason you want to get vaccinated. For those not sure yet, do your homework. Talk to your doctor or your pharmacist. All concerns are reasonable, but do yourself a favor: Don't let some guy on Facebook answer your question when good answers are available.
Today, the U.S. will hit 50 percent of adult Americans that are fully vaccinated. This is a major milestone in our country's vaccination efforts. The number was 1 percent when we entered office January 20th.
Across the country, 25 states and the District of Columbia have fully vaccinated 50 percent or more of their adult population, and 9 states have recently crossed the threshold of 70 percent of adults with at least one shot. I really do want to applaud all of the good work and applaud all the people in those states.
And, of course, the progress that we've made — we've reduced suffering across the country — is due to all of you who have gotten vaccinated; who've contributed not only to your health, but to mine and my family's and my friends and yours, and the health of people who can't get vaccinated because of their medical condition. You've contributed to our country.
You might be seeing all the positive news around you — cases down, deaths down, friends safely shedding their masks, businesses reopening — and think you're in the clear.
But we have a couple of messages: We have more work to do to meet the President's goal of 70 percent of adult Americans with one shot by July 4th, and, unless you're vaccinated, you are at risk. When the virus looks for a place to spread and it doesn't spread to a vaccinated person, it will look for you.
So, I hope you'll go to Vaccines.gov or text your ZIP Code to 438829 or walk into one of the more than 20,000 locations where you don't even need an appointment and get vaccinated today.
And with that, I will turn it over to Dr. Walensky.
Thank you, Andy. Good afternoon. Let's begin with an overview of the data.
We continue to see decreases in the COVID-19 cases nationwide. Our seven-day average is 22,877 cases per day. This represents yet another decrease of about 25 percent from the prior seven-day average and reflects seven contex- — consecutive days with our seven-day average below 30,000 cases a day. The seven-day average of hospital admissions is 3,080, a decrease of almost 17 percent from the prior seven-day period. And seven-day average daily deaths have also declined to two- -to 501 per day.
We are continuing to watch these data closely, and I remain cautious but hopeful they will continue to trend downward as vaccinations scales up.
This coming weekend is Memorial Day. I know that many of you are looking forward to spending time with your family and friends at picnics and bar (inaudible). Thanks to vaccines, tens of millions of Americans are able to get back to something closer to normal: visiting friends and family. These are the events we missed over the last year, and we are now safe (inaudible) when we are vaccinated.
This past weekend, I got to spent time outside with my family, and I was encouraged to see so many others outside and to see so many of their smiles, working to regain so much of what we have lost. All of this is possible because vaccinations are going up and cases and risk of community transmission across the country are going down.
Here are the important points to remember going into Memorial Day weekend: If you are vaccinated, you are protected and you can enjoy your Memorial Day. If you are not vaccinated, our guidance has not changed for you. You remain at risk of infection. You still need to mask and take other precautions. And if you are not vaccinated, I want to encourage you to take this holiday weekend to give yourself and your family the gift of protection by getting vaccinated.
We are on a good downward path, but we are not quite out of the woods yet. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are all declining because of the millions of people who have stepped forward and done their part to protect their health and the health of their communities to move us out of this pandemic. Here's to the start of blue st- — skies and better days ahead.
Please, everyone, enjoy a safe, happy, and vaccinated Memorial Day weekend. Thank you. I'll now turn things over to Dr. Fauci.
Thank you very much, Dr. Walensky. So let me just talk a little bit about the situation regarding how well we are doing in the care and the treatment of people with COVID-19.
As you can see from this chart, the case fatality rate of the ongoing pandemic has dramatically diminished over a period of about a year, such that we're down to around 2 percent or so. This is due not only to being able to take care of people better in a non-pharmacological way, but also to be able to utilize some of the interventions that have been shown to be safe and effective.
I spoke to this group previously about the NIH treatment guidelines panel, which is accessible on the website shown here: www.COVID19TreatmentGuidelines.NIH.gov. If you can't remember that, just go NIH.gov and search for "treatment guidelines."
The reason I show you this — and I know it's very difficult to read the small print — is that we now have compartmentalized the disease severity and the most appropriate therapies from people not hospitalized to those hospitalized without severe disease; for those hospitalized requiring oxygenation; those hospitalized requiring delivery through high-flow devices; and those hospitalized requiring mechanical ventilation or "ECMO."
I would like to have people realize that continuing going to this treatment guidelines panel website, literally on a daily basis, you can get a feel for what the latest data are in the treatment of individuals. Here's an example.
Just about four days ago, it was posted, on this pre-print server, the results from a Regeneron trial using their combination cocktail monoclonal antibodies, which showed a rather substantial diminution in the risk of hospitalization or all-cause death compared to a placebo. This will immediately be on the treatment guidelines panel.
I just want to also introduce you to something that we have been using at the NIH and with our collaborators. It's called "ACTIV", which is the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines, which is a public-private partnership in which we've evaluated hundreds of potential therapeutic agents and prioritizing the most promising candidates to test in later clinical trials.
These protocols are coordinated and efficient evaluation of multiple investigational agents as they become available.
And these are some of the ones that we have. There's an ACTIV-1 trial on immunomodulators; ACTIV-2 on monoclonal antibodies; ACTIV-3 on monoclonal antibodies together with other therapies; ACTIV-4 with antithrombotics; and ACTIV-5, which we call the "BET," or Big Effect Trial, aims to identify promising treatments for large trials; and, finally, repurposed drugs, which we're always trying to see if we have a hit there.
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