UK authorizes variant-specific vaccine in fight against COVID-19

ABC News medical contributor Dr. Darien Sutton breaks down the impact the new vaccine could have, and the latest on monkeypox in the U.S.
5:18 | 08/16/22

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Transcript for UK authorizes variant-specific vaccine in fight against COVID-19
- And I want to bring in emergency physician and ABC News medical contributor Dr. Darien Sutton for more on this. We're going to talk a little bit about the new COVID vaccine in a second. But Dr. Sutton, first I wanted to ask you about the first lady, because we just learned that Jill Biden tested positive for COVID-19. The White House says she's experiencing mild symptoms and that she's been prescribed Paxlovid. But the president just recovered from COVID himself. Is it possible he could get it again? - It's certainly possible, but it's rare. I've not seen that usually in my clinical experience with patients. Oftentimes when you have an infection of COVID-19, you have a period of time, which is approximately three months, where you're very unlikely to get reinfected. So I don't see that as an outcome. But I do think that this speaks to the importance of the tactics that we take around protecting those who are currently infected, and also reducing the risk of mitigation. We saw that the president was recently infected. I'm not sure if these cases are associated. It is likely that it was somewhere within the White House. But it just reminds us that we still have to practice high levels of caution, wearing high levels of protective masks, repetitive testing. That includes antigen testing. And as for the first lady, it was PCR testing, which is a little bit more accurate. - Now, I want to move on now to that COVID vaccine, because the UK just authorized this new bivalent vaccine. It fights two different variants. How much of an impact could that have in the fight against COVID? - I think it will help a lot with the public perception of vaccines. Many people are frustrated. As we just saw, the first lady, who was vaccinated and double boosted, was testing positive. And many people are asking, what is the additional benefit? And I want to remind everyone that vaccines are protecting us against hospitalization and death. But as time went on, variants developed. And that chipped away at that vaccine protection, leaving us vulnerable to the possibility of an infection. Now, with this new bivalent vaccine, hopefully we'll see not only a decrease in the amount of those who are coming to the hospital, an even greater level of protection. But I'm hopeful that we'll also see a decrease in the rate of infection, as within the studies, those who had gotten the vaccine were able to develop protective antibodies against the BA.4 and the BA.5 subvariants, which have been responsible for the most recent surges. - So could we see a similar vaccine here in the US? And who would be eligible for it? - Well, what we know is that the US has reportedly bought millions of doses of the bivalent vaccine, the new vaccine that has not yet been approved for use here within the United States. Usually we see the UK proceeds us in the decisions regarding vaccines and boosters. And we can expect that we would see a response in terms of advisory committees as early as next month. And I also expect that that response will come with recommendations for fourth doses for all of Americans and citizens within the United States, not just those who are high risk. - So I want to talk about monkeypox, too, so much to cover today. We know at least seven cases in children now here in the US. Kids are getting ready to head back to school. Some already started. What can parents and schools do to keep kids safe from this? - First off, I can only imagine the amount of frustration that parents and schools are having to take on to try to figure out how to combat these two public health emergencies. I want to remind that COVID-19 and monkeypox are very different viruses. COVID-19 transmits primarily via respiratory droplets, and as we know, monkeypox primarily through contact and close contact and physical contact between people. I think that the overall risk within classrooms is relatively low. But we do have to take care, especially, for example, in college campuses and places in schools where children are cohabitating after school, because that's when the close contact comes into play. And so heavy reminders on how this virus is transmitted, through close contact, cleaning high-touch surfaces, making sure that you avoid sharing clothing and bedding, and making sure that if you have any symptoms that you isolate yourself and contact your local department of health. - All right, and medical experts are saying that they're particularly concerned about monkeypox on college campuses. Why? - I think it's mainly due to that fear and that increased risk outside of the classroom. So I'm hopeful that with this education and reminders that it's everyone that is at risk, not just those who are gay and bisexual men, but it's every human is at risk, because this is a contact disease that can be shared via close touch. So I would remind college campuses about education, what monkeypox looks like. Oftentimes it can present as small pimples or pustules anywhere in the body, associated with swollen lymph nodes and a flu-like illness. And if you have any of those symptoms, you have to make sure that you isolate. And then, of course, cleaning high-touch surfaces and making sure that you wash your hands. - And I know a lot of us are now freaking out every time we see a bump on ourselves or our kids. So how do you know if you have monkeypox? What should we look out for? And when can you breathe a sigh of relief? - It often can start as a collection of bumps that can appear anywhere on the body. I remind patients, especially for those who I'm diagnosing with monkeypox, unfortunately, within the United States and within the emergency room here in California, is that the symptoms can sometimes start on the face, but also include the hands, the mouth, and lower extremities, places that you don't normally get lesions. If you have that associated with increased risk of flu-like illness, as well as swollen lymph nodes, those are signs that you might have an active infection. And I would advise that you take a high level of caution, and reminders that the level or the incubation period between initial exposure and the onset of symptoms can be anywhere from one to three weeks. - Three weeks, all right. Dr. Sutton, we appreciate it, as always. Thank you. - Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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