Dr. Ashish Jha rejects '0 COVID-19' strategy: 4 Sunday talk show takeaways

The White House's COVID-19 lead took to Sunday talk shows April 17 to discuss China's "zero COVID-19" strategy, boosters for older adults, vaccines for young children and more. 

Asked about whether data currently supports China's "zero COVID-19" approach, which involves large-scale lockdowns, mass testing and travel bans, Ashish Jha, MD, the White House's COVID-19 response coordinator, said it's not "likely to work." 

"I think it's very difficult at this point with a highly contagious variant to be able to curtail this through lockdowns alone," Dr. Jha told Fox News Sunday. "That's why [the U.S.] strategy … is people should get vaccinated and boosted, we should make sure treatments are available. That is a much more effective, long-term, durable strategy for living with this virus." 

Three more takeaways from Dr. Jha's April 17 media interviews: 

Support for boosters over 60: "If you're over 60, you should be out there getting that second booster," Dr. Jha told ABC News' This Week, citing data from Israel showing the additional shot among people in this age group reduced infections and deaths. As far as those aged 50-59 who are eligible for a second booster per CDC guidance, Dr. Jha said it "depends on your risk profile. That's the place where I think it's really important to talk to your doctor," he told NBC News' Meet the Press. 

Vaccines for young children: Dr. Jha said to "let science and evidence" drive the timeline of vaccinations for children under five. "Moderna has put out its press release," Dr. Jha told NBC News. "They're going to be submitting the full set of data to the FDA, hopefully reasonably soon. I know Pfizer's working on this. So we're going to have a lot more information."

Dr. Jha told Fox News he hopes guidance on vaccinations for young children will be issued in the next couple of months but said it's hard to gauge "exactly when" it will become available.

Congressional funding: With Congress set to return next week, Dr. Jha said he hopes they will secure a deal on additional COVID-19 funding "as soon as possible" in order to continue to ensure treatments, vaccines and tests are readily available to the public. 

"We're going to have a new generation of vaccines, my hope is in the fall," Dr. Jha told Fox News Sunday. "There are a lot of really promising treatments coming down the pipe. None of those things are going to be available for the American people if Congress does not step up and fund these efforts."

 

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