Coronavirus (COVID-19): Press Conference with Michael Mina, 12/04/20

You’re listening to a press conference from the Harvard School of Public Health with Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. This call was recorded at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, December 4th.


MODERATOR: Dr. Mina, do you have any opening remarks?

MICHAEL MINA: I just want people to know that Congress is trying to pass a new bill, and who knows how much it’s going to end up being, but it will be a new COVID stimulus bill, and they’re closing their session on December 11th, I believe. And so I’ve been working very hard with them and trying to essentially get them to include rapid testing as a part of that bill. And essentially, if they can, if it’s a trillion-dollar bill, if they can set aside one thousandth of it, one billion dollars, which sounds like a lot, but it’s really not, towards manufacturing capacity for these little paper strip tests, that can be enough to build up the capacity in this country to essentially get testing available to the whole of the United States in 2021. Right now, we’re seeing testing delays again of five, six, seven days. Essentially almost all of the testing that is happening in this country at the moment is without purpose, if it’s a four-day delay, a five-day delay, there is almost no reason to be doing those tests. And of course, cases are growing out of control again, as they have been for a while now. Making these tests accessible is simple at this point. We know how well they work. They are working incredibly well. New data is coming out practically daily showing that these tests have somewhere in 98 percent, 99 percent or better sensitivity compared to the PCR to detect infectious people, which are the people that it’s important to detect. These rapid antigen tests can sort of solve this problem of really having no useful tests in this country outside of people who find themselves in the hospital. And even those people are often waiting days. So I’m pushing very hard to get Congress to place a billion dollars aside for the development and capacity building of these tests and ideally something around the order of five billion to 10 billion for the actual production of them over the following year. But really, it’s getting this immediate infusion of funds into these various companies for which I have no ties to any, that’s really what we need so that we can actually start doing something useful in terms of identifying infectious people. The current situation is just not tenable and it’s not working. So I’ve been trying to push very hard for it within speaking directly to to Congress people and senators and other folks. And I think the more we can push on this, whether it’s from the media side or just from talking directly to them, it’s one of the most important issues that we could possibly do to solve this crisis at the moment. Vaccines are coming, absolutely. But that is absolutely not a reason to not get testing infrastructure in place. And the capacity to build these is paper tests, which are working exceedingly well. It is not a reason to not do that. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. But a vaccine is one solution to this problem. Testing is another crucial solution to this problem. And we need contingency plans. The vaccine is not going to be extremely widely available to the average person still for many months, and we still don’t really know how well it’s going to work in the even medium term after three months or so. So I just want to start with that. And if anybody has questions about that process and sort of what we’re doing on our side to try to push that forward, I’m happy to answer things about it. But for now, I’ll just start taking other questions. And I do have to say I have to run at 1:12, so this will be a little bit shorter.

MODERATOR: OK, thank you, Dr. Mina. First question.

Q: Can you hear me?


Q: OK, great. I would just like to get your thoughts as people consider just the hospitalizations and death rates and what we expect to see toward the end of December. Are you able to just kind of give us a sense of where how you see things evolving post holiday?

MICHAEL MINA: I think things are going to be getting worse for at least a few weeks. We certainly saw an exponential rise in cases leading up to Thanksgiving. We did see this sort of odd plateau, and I think the plateau that we saw right before Thanksgiving at the national level is probably it’s due to a number of different factors. But regardless leading up to it, we saw exponential rise. And we know that hospitalizations and deaths unfortunately follow that, there is no way around. We’ve seen in general; hospitalizations are following a week or two and deaths following about a month. And yesterday, we saw almost three thousand deaths, maybe past three thousand, I’m not sure, at this point in. It’s easy to just keep saying these numbers, you know, I worry that that the population has been conditioned now to just think of them as numbers instead of three thousand lives that were lost. And I’m concerned that it’s going to continue going up. And we have to recognize that in some ways, even if we were to lock down now the damage is done. And when I say lock down, what I really mean is even if we were to sort of abruptly stop all transmission today where there’s no way to stop these hospitalizations and deaths from occurring over the next month. And I really worry about the ICU capacity in the hospital capacity in our country at the moment. So I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. There’s no real way around that.

MODERATOR: Are you all set?

Q: That’s great, thank you.

MODERATOR: OK, next question.

Q: Hi there, thank you for taking my question, and I’m so happy to have followed him because it’s about those numbers. So, while everyone is excited for the upcoming vaccines, The University of Washington IHME model is not predicting US coronavirus deaths to drop very much after the vaccines rollout. Instead, the model suggests universal masking would save more lives. So my questions are, why do you think the model is not predicting a big drop, even with a rapid rollout? And why would masks be a better strategy?

MICHAEL MINA: Well, I think that it’s certainly not an “or” thing. Masks are going to be a strategy that need to exist along with the vaccine, as are tests. The vaccine is going to be rolled out slowly. The people who are going to get it first, some of which, I mean there’s obviously still juggling going on sort of every day right now, but we’re not going to sort of magically achieve herd thresholds of immunity. It’s going to be tens of millions at first. And in our country, that’s not very many. Maybe it will be 10 percent of the country. We have to add on top of that the number of people who have already been infected, which is not inconsiderable number. And so I think we will get there. But certainly, to anticipate that there’s going to be a rapid drop in cases in January once these vaccines start rolling out in any real numbers, I think that that would be naive. And so hopefully by the summer, maybe we’ll see a major change. I also am hopeful that as April and May come around, we will start to see the benefits of seasonality begin to kick in again, if not before that. We saw an early rise in cases, usually the spikes for any given coronavirus are fairly narrow, so hopefully we’ll start to see some seasonality plan, but it could not happen until April or May. And so, in any case, I think we can’t expect the vaccine to rollout in huge numbers immediately. And we have to be planning for spread to continue. We have to keep our masks. Absolutely. We have to keep focusing on building up our testing capacity because that’s the only way to know who is transmitting virus. And I suggest these paper strip tests. And we also have to then be cognizant of how we’re vaccinating population.

MODERATOR: Are you all set?

Q: The only thing I would say is that, and I apologize if you haven’t seen the latest model, but that they expect these deaths to continue to be pretty bad through April. So I think that’s the only thing I would say is do you have any ideas as to why they would expect deaths to be so high even through then?

MICHAEL MINA: Well, if cases continue through then, then we should expect us to continue to then. I haven’t seen the most recent updates at all on it. I am hopeful that we will start to get this in much better shape and under control by April. It just depends on what variables they’re putting in and what the parameters they’re using are, how much they’re anticipating. If they’re anticipating exponential growth all the way through April, then that’s a different story. I would just have to look at what their most updated versions are.

Q: Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Next question.

Q: Terrific, thank you so much, Doctor, it’s good to talk to you again. In Massachusetts, we saw an all-time spike in the number of newly reported cases yesterday at 6,477. That breaks the record set the day before. And I wanted to ask, you know, if it’s possible to know and to say for sure that this is in any way a reaction to or because of the Thanksgiving holiday and the gatherings that happened there. I mean, sure, we can say anecdotally following Thanksgiving, we saw the numbers spike, but is there causality there? And if so, I mean, what does that tell us about the holidays going forward?

MICHAEL MINA: I would say that at the moment we’re not I would say we have to be cautious about placing causal relationship at this moment in time on Thanksgiving. The cases have generally continued just going up. And so every day is going to be a record. Prior to Thanksgiving, we were already in an explosion of cases. So I think that there’s a lot of reason to believe we will see the effects. It’s been about a week now. We anticipate that the people who got infected, for example, on Thursday, they should generally be starting to show their symptoms over the last couple of days, there’s usually another two-day delay before people arrive in hospital. So I would say that right now is the time to start watching for that. But so far, I don’t think we’re seeing really, really hard evidence. It’s not that it doesn’t exist, but I would say we just have to be aware that cases have been increasing for a month and a half now at exponential rates. And so we’re continuing to see the progression.

Q: If I could ask a follow-up, I mean, it’s a pretty significant spike in Massachusetts just over the last few days and actually it sounds like perhaps you’re saying, though, with testing, we might actually see an even greater spike in the coming days, that what we’re seeing now isn’t the result of Thanksgiving or isn’t the totality of what we might see from Thanksgiving?

MICHAEL MINA: Yeah, I would just say that cases have been increasing. So, for example, Thanksgiving is the spike that we’re seeing right now in cases. Was it that there were a lot of people who are just wanting to find out? Are we seeing changes in the dynamics? I absolutely think that Thanksgiving will likely lead to more cases. I’m not saying that. I’m maybe thinking too much like a statistician at the moment and saying to really place causal effect, we need more data. But I think that the obvious answer is yes, we’re going to see an increase in cases because of increased gatherings on Thanksgiving. This will probably be sort of yesterday that this large spike that we saw in Massachusetts is going to be sort of probably the first of numerous jumps. And I think that once, we have sort of a more totality of the data, we can go back and do a postmortem to say this was the causal effect. At the moment, whatever the effect is, we can only move forward. But I do believe that Thanksgiving will absolutely be responsible in part for increased cases.

Q: And then if I could just lastly, what that tells us about the upcoming holiday?

MICHAEL MINA: This is the problem, absolutely, I mean, I would say Christmas is probably going to be potentially even worse than Thanksgiving, I don’t know. I’m not a behavioral scientist and I don’t study holiday travel enough. But certainly, we know that Thanksgiving and Christmas and school recessions and things like that, you know, they are often associated with spikes in infectious diseases. And when we’re in the midst of a pandemic like this, then that will only be exacerbated. So I think very much that the holidays and Christmas people spend even more time together. So if people are actually showing up, we could actually see, unlike Thanksgiving, where if you spend a day or two together, maybe that’s not enough time for somebody to get infected, incubate the virus and pass it on to another person, to the family. And so we might see a more limited distribution of transmission events from Thanksgiving. Whereas with Christmas, when people get together for a week, for example, we might see actually a larger number of cases because you’ll actually start to see that within family or within gathering transmission events go through cycles. And so there’s a good chance that we might actually see a bigger burst of cases after the holidays.

MODERATOR: Are you all set?

Q: Yes, thank you so much.

MODERATOR: Next question.

Q: Thank you for taking my question. What do you think of Biden’s 100-day mask plan? And will it make a difference, especially for those who have refused to wear a mask up until now?

MICHAEL MINA: Well, I’ve been fairly outspoken about not trying to just keep banging our head against the same wall, hoping that it goes away. I am hopeful, you know, with this kind of plan that if there is very consistent messaging and if Biden can work very closely with the governors of all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Guam, and other places. But if we can essentially get people on board, then I think it can be an extraordinarily powerful way to help limit spread. So I am very, very supportive of the effort. I’m skeptical of the impact it will necessarily have in much of the country where people are not necessarily that interested in wearing masks. When people go to work, are they are they going to keep their masks on? I think they absolutely work. There’s no doubt about that in my mind. But I think we have to be really cognizant of aware of just how oddly politicized masks have become. And it’s a good effort, I hope that Biden doesn’t use a lot of his political capital in terms of trying to get people to change behavior on that one piece if it’s not working. I think there comes a point where you have to sort of switch gears and say there’s a lot of people who just aren’t going to be wearing masks and then work from not really be willing to adapt and think through new approaches. But I’m supportive of the effort for sure.

Q: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Next question.

Q: Yes, thank you for taking my question and thanks for putting this on. My general question is just what are your thoughts on the Biden Harris plan around testing and other aspects you think they should approach differently?

MICHAEL MINA: Well, I think we all have to come to terms with the idea that the laboratory-based PCR testing probably should have never been a public health testing tool. It’s a medical tool. It was never designed to test millions, millions of Americans. It’s expensive. It’s labor intensive. And the more we learn about this virus, not surprisingly, the more we recognize that the delay, even a 24- or 48-hour delay in testing, which right now is like rapid for a lot of the PCR labs, it’s just not working. It’s not going to stop spread. We know that if people are getting tested only once they have symptoms, they’ve already done most of their spreading. If they have another test, if they get symptoms and then they have a day or two delay before they get a swab and then another three- or four-day delay before they get a result, it’s essentially a useless test. And I think we have to come to terms with that and embrace that we need change. And the only real way to really change testing in a useful manner, I think, is to distribute the tests, get them readily accessible to individuals, whether that’s at home or at work or ideally, I mean, whether it’s at work or at school or ideally at home. Just build the capacity to make these tests. Everyone wants to. Everyone wants a rapid test. There’s a lot of things that people don’t want to do that are kind of begrudgingly doing, distancing and wearing masks. People are doing it in parts of the country, but nobody likes to. Nobody wants to. But people desperately want to know their status. They’re desperate for getting a test for knowing can I safely see my loved ones where it is not a public health approach to just how people don’t see your loved ones for another six months. It’s already been almost a year. And that is not embracing what public health is about, which is the mental health of people. It’s keeping our society healthy as a whole and having far too much of a myopic effort to just think about the virus itself is really doing damage. And people are yearning to just have some improvement in their risk benefit profile that they can make on their own. And knowledge of your likely infectious status, even if it’s not perfect, is a huge benefit to help people feel safer, to help people move around the world because they have to. We can’t just keep saying lock yourself indoors for the next seven months. It’s just not appropriate. It’s not an appropriate time with the right word. It’s not feasible. People will die from other reasons. So getting these tests out to everyone, I think it’s a pivot that the government needs to take.

I think Biden should come out full force and he largely has; he has said that rapid testing is part of his plan. I think we need to get Congress to build it absolutely into the next COVID stimulus package that they try to pass. It needs to be small numbers. It’s billions, little billions, which sounds like a lot, but it’s less than point one percent of what this virus has cost Americans. It’s less than point five percent of what this virus is likely to cost Americans over the next few months. And so I think that the Biden administration, the Bush administration, really need to embrace just getting five companies to start building these at larger numbers. It’s easy. They can do it, cut to one hundred million dollars into each of five companies to build and scale up, give G.E. or whatever other company the necessary tools to the spending to scale up their ability to make one of the reagents in here. It’s called nitrocellulose. It will be a limiting reagent. Just do those few steps with a very small amount of money and we could find ourselves in an entirely different position. We won’t have long lines. We won’t have people not getting test results for ten days. You know, all of those results should just be thrown in the garbage and we would actually give ourselves the tools to fight this. And so I hope that they really pivot towards rapid, frequent, accessible, ideally at home testing as one of their very, very top priorities.

Q: Thank you so much.

MODERATOR: Next question.

Q: Thank you for taking my question, Dr. Mina. You mentioned off the top that you’re working with members of Congress. Can you tell us who that might be, who’s been most receptive? You’ve also mentioned efforts to get states to do this on their own and go around the FDA if necessary. Any progress there that you’re aware of?

MICHAEL MINA: I mean, we’ve been working with quite a large number of various congressional members on both sides of the aisle. This is one of the most important pieces, I think, about this plan of rapid testing for everyone is that this is, I think, one of the most bipartisan things I’ve seen in terms of the reception that we’ve seen from members of Congress, Senate, everyone, governors. This is a plan. This is an approach that everyone can get behind. It has something for everyone. It’s giving people their individual level data. It’s stopping people from having to go and sit through a drive through is for purposeless tests and pay hundreds of dollars. This is something that everyone really wants. And what we’ve seen is that really Democrats and Republicans are embracing it and coming together, I think, very, very well around this. For example, the Heritage Foundation is hosting an event next week with Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana on one of the featured speakers in this event. And they are coming out full force to embrace it, as are the New Democrats. And so I think that this is a really powerful moment and an approach that can actually bring sides that normally have a lot of trouble coming together, together. And so I would say that the reception has been very, very positive.

MODERATOR: Next question.

Q: Yes, hi, thanks. Continuing along the questions of Congress and rapid testing and PCR testing. I’m just wondering, how much of the current testing infrastructure was propped up by the CARES Act? And not only if you don’t get your recommendation into the upcoming package, I mean, just if there’s not a deal cut, could we see the testing infrastructure collapse in January?

MICHAEL MINA: I mean, we don’t really have a testing infrastructure at the moment. I think we have to really come to terms that. We don’t have an effective one anyway. We’re doing a bunch of tests. But very few of them are actually effective. Our sensitivity to catch people who are infectious today is less than five percent now. Almost all of the time people get the results, most people have finished most of their infectivity, period. And so I would say that the CARES Act served to jump start a lot of the testing that is available today. But it’s not the type of testing that we need to really get public health to tackle this from a public health vantage point. What the CARES Act did in terms of building up PCR based testing and providing funding to make that happen, I think that needs to be reserved for medical use, for people who actually are sick, for people who are in the hospital for acute care. But that’s medicine and this is public health. And we have to tackle this pandemic as a public health problem, using public health tools and using public health mindset and then all of those medical problems to resolve. And so I would say that I don’t think it’s going to fall apart. The labs that have been built in the PCR capacity that’s been built, there’s a lot of money in it. And unfortunately, it’s another big problem. My grandma, my fiancé’s grandma, just got charged four hundred dollars for a coronavirus test in rural Ohio. I mean, four hundred dollars. That is just completely insane. And so, you know, there’s a lot of incentive for these labs to just keep doing what they’re doing and insurance companies and everyone’s getting a lot of money out of it. So I think it’s not going to completely fall away. But at the same time, it doesn’t exist right now for public health use.

Q: Just one quick follow up, just to clarify, is the one billion proposal for the at home rapid tests that you were talking about at the beginning, is that currently in the bipartisan proposal or is it not included in that yet?

MICHAEL MINA: Well, we’re trying to really build it. We’re trying to gather the support, which we’ve definitely seen the support. We are trying to ensure that that it gets in there. The funding is available for testing, but it needs to stop being wasted on just trying to build up less effective testing programs. This is a cheaper approach, and it needs to be really earmarked or just specifically set aside in the proposal for building the infrastructure manufacturing capacity for these little tasks. But we really need a billion dollars specifically authorized to build the manufacturing capacity. And I don’t care if the companies end up white labeling it and the government asks them to make them all generic so that there’s no company names on it. However, it needs to happen. We just need the capacity and we’re not far off at capacity. Capacity is fairly easy to build, but we need a billion dollars specific for that purpose. And that’s what we’re really trying to push and make sure that that’s in there.

MODERATOR: Are you all set?

Q: Yes, thanks a lot, appreciate it.

MODERATOR: Next question.

Q: Thank you very much, appreciate the time. So going back to the home, testing that you’re advocating for. Have you spoken directly either with the Biden administration or with Governor Baker here in Massachusetts to try to get their input and support on this? And if so, what are you hearing from their administration’s?

MICHAEL MINA: Over the past seven months or so, I’ve spoken to a lot of people in the federal and state governments, states here in Massachusetts, New York, California, Ohio, all over the place and with the current administration and with members of the future administration in the White House. And so I would say that there’s been a lot of good a very positive reception for this specifically in Massachusetts. I think the policymakers, there’s so much confusion early on when these tests came out, people didn’t know how to evaluate them appropriately. So there was a lot of concern that they’re not sensitive enough. I’ve been spending months and months trying to educate the country in some ways on how to most appropriately evaluate infection detectors, and not compare them just to any time RNA positivity, for example. Point is, now that the policymakers are starting to understand more and more about just how good and powerful these tests are, and they have become they’re warming up to this idea very quickly. I’d say Biden has a lot of really good advisers around him and his campaign came out early on to use science and say, look, the science suggests that these tests really work. And now, the more and more results that we get in, the empirical data is all pushing in the direction of just how magnificently these work. There is just a new study that was done in collaboration with Baker’s team in the State Department of Health and the state laboratory in Massachusetts and researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and other places, showed just how powerful the BinaxNOW, the Abbott version of the paper test is. And that led to a recommendation which is now on website, which I forget the exact terminology, but essentially, they’re really pushing for the use of these rapid strip tests, I believe, in schools across all ages, and that’s the appropriate thing. All of the data suggest that that is absolutely the appropriate thing to do, that these tests work as well in kids as adults and asymptomatic as symptomatic despite what now there’s been some recent coverage in The New York Times that questions that, but it’s just wrong. These tests work. They look to find the virus and they work in whoever has virus. And so I would say that the administrations and the policymakers are really starting to embrace that well.

Q: One quick follow up, just kind of getting to brass tacks, what is it going to take to get these tests widespread approval from the FDA in your mind?

MICHAEL MINA: Well, I would say that the FDA is generally very supportive of the idea of getting them out, and I think that what needs to be done is we need to streamline the authorization process for so many of these tests, like for I don’t have multiple versions, but they’re all pretty much the exact same model. This is a paper strip test. It just sits inside of this little cartridge here. They all are the same form factors. So one thing I want to see is that the FDA makes a very clear move to just say, OK, anyone who’s building these tests, these are the exact metrics you need to meet. This is how we’re going to evaluate this particular test and make sure that it’s at home. But whether that’s necessarily on the FDA, which has a charge to authorize medical devices, I don’t want this to be seen as a medical device. I want this to be seen as a public health device. The American public isn’t automatically 100 percent patients. We’re not all medical patients. We’re just people at our homes who want to know if we have any virus in us. So these don’t need to be authorized as medical devices. And what I’d really like to see is for the FDA to work with the CDC to create a new pathway that maybe is still under the auspices of in vitro diagnostics but is really dedicated towards public health tools. We need to start creating language around how to consider and think about these tools that is distinct from clinical medicine, hospital medicine, because just the same way that a thermometer is used to check your kid’s temperature at home, that doesn’t need a medical prescription. We don’t want this to require that. And I think if we can get the FDA to start shifting their thinking towards public health testing, I think that that’s one of the more powerful approaches that could be had better. But in general, I would say that I want the FDA to start thinking about all of these different companies that are making really high-quality versions of this sort of test to create a really concrete, not black box pathway. These companies are generally a little bit trepidatious to even submit an application because they don’t want to be told no or they don’t really know exactly what the FDA is looking for. This isn’t a game. You know, this is just getting the FDA to work directly with these companies. And they seem to be willing to tell them exactly what’s needed.

Q: Thank you.

MICHAEL MINA: I do want to I want to just say the FDA has been really willing, they are absolutely willing to have those conversations. I’m trying to now act somewhat as a matchmaker as opposed to the companies. Think of the FDA as this big black box and the FDA wonders why the companies are coming to them. And so what I’ve been doing is trying to work with the CEOs and the companies and the FDA to try to bring them to the table together and create dialogue, create more of a continued dialogue so that it can become more of an accelerated partnership rather than business as usual application to the FDA.

Q: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Next question.

Q: Hi, Dr. Mina, I know you’re tight on time, I’m just curious, in regard to the vaccines, do you have concerns with logistics of getting the vaccine distribution of the vaccine doses and prioritizing who gets it?

MICHAEL MINA: Absolutely, and I think the prioritization, there’s some really, really bright people working on that. I think that the country is going to come out with a good model for how exactly to distribute in terms of which class, which sort of age groups and working classes or working groups, I don’t want to say classes, which stratified sort of groups in society are going to get them first, second, third. But absolutely, we’d be naive to think that some of these vaccines, we’re going to have to plan some of the distribution around the specific vaccine. We can’t just say this vaccine is going to go out or one of the vaccines is going to go out here. We have to really be cognizant of the culture requirements, which is a serious issue that, you know, I’m less and less concerned about the US, but the fact that I’m even concerned at all about the US should be telling of just how difficult it’s going to be to get some of these vaccines out to the globe at large. And they require a minus 80 or minus 70 degrees Celsius freezer. These are now being sold out. I run a research laboratory at Harvard and for various for different reasons, I tried to buy a freezer recently. And there are no freezers to be bought. And so I think it’s going to be really very, very difficult. The world didn’t prepare for that aspect of things. And it’s kind of I feel like now, again, another thing that could have been foreseen, but really kind of wasn’t.

Q: I’m all set, thank you.

MODERATOR: Next question.

Q: Hey, you answered most of my questions on getting people to adopt the rapid test. I do have another question, kind of shifting gears a little bit and not intended to be alarmist or anti vaccination. But correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s a chance that if you’re vaccinated, you could still carry and spread the virus. And if the first group is going to be health care workers, if that’s a possibility, what could or should be done to kind of keep them from spreading without even knowing that they’re contagious.

MICHAEL MINA: Yeah, if somebody gets a vaccine, we have to make it very clear that you still need to, especially a health care worker, still need to wear a mask, do everything else the same way until we understand more and more about this, which we won’t know for months, because we have to understand, you know, how long is this working over the long term? And the only way to get there is to have time. We will need to ensure that health care workers and others are not getting a vaccine and then taking off their mask. That’s just we that would be wrong at this with the knowledge that we have right now. And so I think that’s the basic we have to keep doing kind of everything business as usual, not business as usual, but business as usual for the last few months. How people are acting now keep doing everything the same. It’s the same thing with these tests. If you’re taking the test, keep doing everything the same. And ideally, if we get the vaccines out to enough people, we will start to see cases. You know, we’ll start to see reductions in health care workers sort of transmission events. And so I think that that’s the basic message is we need to ensure that people recognize that if they get a vaccine, it doesn’t mean that they’re absolutely not transmissible.

Q: These are the tests that you were talking about with health care workers potentially being spreaders without knowing it. I mean, how it seems like the two would logically tie together.

MICHAEL MINA: Absolutely. This is why I feel extremely strongly that anyone who’s getting distracted about tests because of vaccines is really in error. All of these works synergistically. They don’t just work together. They actually synergize together. If we get vaccines and masks and tests, we can really tackle this. We need strategy and we absolutely have to keep frequent testing. If you’re vaccinated, then still use these tests that will catch, you know, then it will really catch ninety nine percent of new cases that might potentially transmit. So it just makes sense.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Dr. Mina, for your time today, and thank you for everyone participating in today’s call. Did you have any final thoughts before you have to run, Dr. Mina?

MICHAEL MINA: Nope. I really do hope that some of you will be willing to cover this effort and really try to help push Congress to pass this. I think the people want it. It’s bipartisan. And I’m happy to have more conversations with people if that’s of interest. Thanks.

This concludes the December 4th press conference.

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