12/17/2020 | 5:30 pm | Dr. Owais Durrani, Emergency Medicine, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss what Americans can expect the FDA to do with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine as the U.S. death toll tops 300k

Yahoo Finance Live video transcript:

ADAM SHAPIRO: We’re going to invite into the stream Dr. Owais Duranni, emergency medicine resident physician at UT Health San Antonio. It’s good to have you here, Doctor. Wanted to ask you, before we get into the news about Moderna, FDA has approved a COVID rapid test. I think it’s the first to get FDA approval.

How important is this? It costs about $30 bucks, and you could do it at home. It’s a COVID home rapid test that they approved.

OWAIS DURRANI: Yeah, thanks for having me. It is a huge, huge step. They had actually approved one about a month or so ago. But it was prescription-only. And so the big deal with this one is you can go get it over the counter, take it home.

The other thing that we’ve been looking at is the false positives and negatives from the data that they looked at. And it looks like it’s a pretty accurate test as well. And so this is going to be huge for those who need an answer in terms of, you know, having some symptoms or an itchy throat or something like that, needing to know if they’re positive and they need to isolate or if they can go about their day. So this is going to be, as it becomes more widely available, as it becomes more affordable, a huge kind of game-changing step moving forward.

SEANA SMITH: Doctor, I want to ask you about the Moderna news that we got today. We could see the second vaccine here being shipped very soon. When we take a look at this timeline and how much this could potentially help getting a larger portion of the population vaccinated, what are you expecting for timing?

OWAIS DURRANI: Yeah, so another day of good, good news in terms of the likely emergency use authorization approval later this week of this vaccine. It’s going to be a major step in getting us out of this pandemic. And it looks like we are on track to get 200 million doses of this Moderna vaccine in the upcoming months. So this is going to play a huge part in vaccinating those beyond the frontline health care workers and nursing home residents. It’s going to play a huge part in kind of getting out to the general public.

Much like the Pfizer vaccine, it’s going to be a two-dose regimen, mRNA-based and spaced apart about four weeks or so. The other kind of interesting thing that I saw in the data was that it decreases by 67% asymptomatic infection. So we need to see kind of how that turns out after the second dose. But that is positive news for those who are worried that you might get the vaccine, you might be safe, but you might still be spreading it.

Doesn’t mean, we can give up on the masks and social distancing right now. But it’s good news moving forward. And it hopefully bodes well for the other vaccines when it comes to asymptomatic spread as well.

ADAM SHAPIRO: The headline today, though, in New York City as we’re getting ready for another lockdown perhaps around Christmas, I’m curious, when can we breathe a sigh of relief from all of this. What do you think?

OWAIS DURRANI: Yeah, so it’s still going to be a while. It’s still going to be, best guess, early summer, mid-summer right now. All our metrics that we’re looking at when it comes to positivity rates, ICU capacity, new cases, they’re headed the wrong direction.

Right now, even though we’re getting all this good news about vaccines and we’re getting vaccines into arms right now, our best defense is still going to be masks and avoiding big gatherings and following those basic public health measures that we’ve been talking about since late February or early March.

Unless we make those changes and really abide by those things, we’re going to continue to see numbers that are headed in the wrong direction for the upcoming few months. And so we really need to hunker down on those kind of basic principles.

SEANA SMITH: Doctor, what are you seeing at your hospital, at UT Health San Antonio? Just in terms of the virus spread, how, I guess, out of control is it in Texas? Do you have a better handle on it than you did just around a month ago?

OWAIS DURRANI: Yeah, so we all kind of heard about the increase in Texas’ numbers. And about a month, month and a half ago, most of those numbers were coming from West Texas, El Paso, the tragedy happening in the Texas Valley region. Now looking at our urban centers, so here in San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas, positivity rates are going up, and hospital capacity is dwindling. Our ICUs are starting to get more and more full.

And we’re seeing ED boarding again. So patients that are admitted to the hospital staying down in the emergency department for extended periods of time because there’s no beds upstairs. And that, studies have shown, is not good for the overall care for those patients who need kind of that closely monitored environment and lots of nursing and physician care.

And so we really, really need to realize that, even though we’re getting this good news right now, we are in a much more dire situation than we were in the fall– or in the spring, sorry. And in the spring, we were taking these massive kind of public health measures and closing indoor dining and things like that. And right now, most of the country isn’t doing that. And so unless we really take a long, hard look at the policy changes we need to make, we’re going to continue to see these bad numbers.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Do you know– did you get a vaccine yet? And do you know if you’re going to get one if you haven’t gotten the shot yet?

OWAIS DURRANI: Yeah, I’m scheduled for seven days from today. So super-excited to get the vaccine and be among the first to demonstrate that this is a safe vaccine, that it is shown to be effective based on the data. And so I’m truly looking forward to that in the next seven days.

ADAM SHAPIRO: We wish you good health. And good luck with the vaccine to you and your whole team. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Owais Durrani, emergency medicine resident physician at UT Health San Antonio. All the best to you.

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