NYC health commissioner talks COVID variants, vaccines, safety


NEW YORK — A report of a newly detected variant of the coronavirus is raising concerns.

The mutation is believed to spread faster and possibly weaken the effectiveness of the current vaccines, according to a New York Times report.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi spoke to PIX11 about the new variant, vaccine distribution in the city and efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

New Variant in NYC

“We know that all viruses mutate and change, that’s what a variant represents,” Dr. Chokshi said.

To prevent the spread and possibilities of more mutations, the city needs to recommit to the four public health measures, including, mask wearing, social distancing, washing your hands and staying home if sick.

When asked if the new mutation would be considered the “New York City variant” and if it’s of concern, Dr. Chokshi said more research needs to be done. Some information about it is of concern, including the speed of transmission.

According to Dr. Chokshi, the city has been able to increase its variant-testing capacity.

Vaccines across NYC

The mayor has been firm on his goal of getting 5 million New Yorkers vaccinated. The city is also expected to get more vaccine supply, and Dr. Chokshi is hopeful that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be approved by the FDA in the coming days, and more people will get vaccinated by March and April.

The city has opened up hundreds of vaccine sites, but Manhattan and Queens have seen more sites opened than the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Dr. Chokshi said the city is committed to opening more sites to the boroughs.

Double masking

The city has set new recommendations for double masking.

Wearing a mask consistently and properly will help prevent the spread.

Layering and fit of masks can serve better and provide additional protection. (Wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask)

“The best thing we can do to fight back is knock out the virus early,” Dr. Chokshi said.

Getting vaccinated

Even though people have recovered from COVID-19, Dr. Chokshi encouraged everyone to still get vaccinated when they become eligible to.

The health commissioner said someone who was positive for COVID-19 can get vaccinated after about 10 days after recovering or after they no longer have symptoms.

He told PIX11 he plans to get vaccinated in the coming days.

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