Dobbs: COVID-19 vaccine is on the way, but don’t celebrate just yet

Dobbs: COVID-19 vaccine is on the way, but don’t celebrate just yet
Dobbs said a vaccine should be available by December, but expects a rise in cases as a result of Thanksgiving gatherings and school events. (Source: WLBT)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State health officers say the state should have a limited amount of COVID-19 vaccine by the middle of December.

Even so, they say they’re expecting the virus numbers to go up again, especially following Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and State Epidemiologist Paul Byers answered questions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

And while there are some bright spots, such as antiviral treatments now being available across the state, they say now is not the time for residents to let their guards down.

“It looks like we’re headed toward a peak that will be even larger (than the summer’s),” Byers said. “Once we get past Thanksgiving, we will have more cases ... We anticipate that we’ll start to see a steady increases in deaths as well.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 1,141 new cases of COVID-19 for November 30, including 29 new deaths. Statewide, there have been 154,000 cases along with 3,836 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Byers and Dobbs urged people to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and curtail events and other social activities. They’re urging everyone to avoid Christmas and holiday events.

“Without a doubt, limit social gatherings. This is not the time to hang out with friends,” said State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “And it’s cold now, and I’m concerned because people aren’t able to hang out outdoors.”

Dobbs went on to say that there’s nothing “magical” about gathering for Christmas, except for the fact that holiday-related events would be ideal environments to spread the virus.

The two also say that high school sporting events should be cancelled and recommend schools should go to virtual to allow the virus to ”settle down” for a few weeks.

“Dr. Byers and I have long advocated for a delay in high school athletics, especially where there can’t be social distance,” Dobbs said. “Part of that is the price we are paying right now.”

Byers, meanwhile, pointed to the fact that 60 schools across the state went virtual prior to Thanksgiving because of outbreaks among students and staffers.

In part because of school functions, Dobbs said the state is seeing more cases where young people are transferring the virus to adults.

“It’s not a good idea to do anything,” he said. “Coronavirus is transmitted around the dinner table, at social gatherings … meeting at a restaurant or going to a party. These are things that are not necessary right now.”

In other news, Dobbs discussed the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as other treatment options that are now available.

“We have 4,000 antibody products in the hospitals,” he said. “It’s available in your community by in large, for people who are recently diagnosed and are at high risk … It’s another tool we have in our tool chest to fight it.”

As for the vaccine, he said the state should “have a limited number of vaccines by December.”

“It looks quite safe,” he said. “There are side effects. A large portion of people reported pain and swelling at the injection site, like other vaccines. (But) we’re fortunate to not see long-term side effects.”

Dobbs also addressed comments he made earlier that the vaccine uses nanotechnology to deliver the vaccine to cells.

He explained that “no robotics” are used in the serum, but rather “small little balls of fat,” which are used to deliver the vaccine into cells.

“Nano just means small,” he said. “The vaccine uses nano particles.”

He said he there is already a high demand for the vaccine, but said the first rounds would likely be made available to front-line healthcare workers, like nurses, and healthcare infrastructure workers.

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