HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Dr. Cameron Webb spent the first part of the pandemic on the front line treating patients at the University of Virginia hospital. He now serves as a Senior Policy Advisor on the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
The Wake Forest School of Medicine graduate says more than 95-percent of new cases are tied to the highly contagious Delta variant, that it spreads faster, and is more unforgiving. And according to Dr. Webb, people who haven’t been vaccinated make up the overwhelming majority of new and severe cases.
“Look no further than places where we have lower vaccination rates,” he explained. “Those are the places we have the most cases. Those are the places where hospitals are stressed.”
Hospitals across the Piedmont-Triad are reporting their ICUs are filling up. With more cases, and more patients we’re also seeing more people roll up their sleeves.
“So we know Americans have been getting vaccinated since December 15,” Webb said. “But seeing the uptick in that number in the last couple of weeks is encouraging. They recognize how critical it is right now to protect themselves.”
Like so many FOX8 viewers, Dr. Webb is about to send his children back into the classroom.
“I have a nearly 10-year old daughter and a 6-year old son. The conversations we’re having in our household are about the safety of the environment they’ll be going into when they go back to school in the next few days.”
And while COVID is less likely to cause severe illness in kids, it still happens.
“Even though our kids are likely to survive, we want them to thrive,” he said. “So part of what we tell them when they’re wearing masks is this is how we help end this pandemic and get things back to normal because they don’t have the opportunity to get vaccinated quite yet if they’re under 12.”
We asked where that approval process stands. Dr. Webb said it won’t happen until the science is there.
“We do know that for Pfizer, they’re looking at a dose that’s about a third of the dose we’re using in adults, and they’re making sure not only is it safe, but that it’s also effective,” he told us. “We’re not cutting corners here. We’re going to move as quickly as possible. We’ve heard estimates ranging from in a couple of weeks to some time at the end of the year to early 2022. For now, we control what’s in front of us, which is those public health mitigation measures.”
We also asked about herd immunity, and whether it’s still possible in light of the Delta variant.
“Herd immunity has always been a fairly elusive concept for most folks. So I think the best way to think about it is how do we stop the spread of the virus, give it as few places as possible to go.”
Dr. Webb said despite the breakthrough cases we’re hearing about, vaccines absolutely work against the Delta variant.
“The best time to get vaccinated was five weeks ago because that means you’re fully protected today. Second best time is today.”
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 97,798 doses were administered the week of July 19. In the last week for which data is available, August 9, 120,436 doses were administered.