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If we roll out the coronavirus vaccine 'in a stepwise fashion, I think that we can be successful': Doctor

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Dr. Adrian Burrowes, Family Medicine Physician & CFP Physicians Group CEO, joins Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers to break down the latest coronavirus developments.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. Let's look at the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. And encouraging news-- case counts are falling while the US, for the first time in months, saw case counts as less than 100,000 in a day. We're joined now by Dr. Adrian Burrowes, family medicine physician and CEO of CFP Physicians Group.

So, doctor, we're hearing that these case counts continue to fall, encouraging news that we're under 100,000 cases in just a day, which still is an extraordinarily high number. But where would you classify where we are right now in this pandemic?

ADRIAN BURROWES: So thanks for having me on, Kristin. So I think that that is a wonderful news. Obviously, though, when we've had news like this in the past, we have complicated that by continuing to break down in terms of not wearing masks again, not social distancing. And so, I'm cautiously optimistic.

Of course, you know, yesterday was another day of gathering with the Super Bowl. And so typically, within two weeks of these gathering events, we usually see a spike again. And so, I would not be surprised to see another rise within the next two weeks.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, talking about the mutations and the different virus strains that we have, I was reading news out this morning that the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't work well in South Africa. And now we keep hearing that these vaccines will work against all of these strains. I'm wondering, however, if there is a possibility that those headlines are going to start changing sometime soon and that we're going to be hearing, OK, well, actually, the vaccine isn't as effective as we originally hoped and thought against some of these variants.

ADRIAN BURROWES: So we do have-- we are dealing with these variants, and we'll be dealing with more variants as time goes along. I would anticipate we'd even have a US variant at some point. The reality is that we've got the Pfizer vaccine, which we've been using, the Moderna vaccine. And so far, there's not evidence to support that they don't work against the variant. So that's something to really consider.

We're talking specifically about the AstraZeneca vaccine, which honestly has had questions from the very beginning in terms of its efficacy. I've had personal questions about the data that was submitted by AstraZeneca. And so it doesn't surprise me necessarily that for this particular strain from South Africa, that is not as effective. But I wouldn't go ahead and classify all the vaccines as potentially non-effective, because the other ones seem to be doing just fine.

KRISTIN MYERS: Is there a scenario at all where, you know, we don't backslide all the way to a ground zero, but that we essentially get into this situation where we're almost up against this kind of, like, a losing battle against some of these variants, some of these strains? Particularly as you mentioned, you know folks really are tired now, and they're starting to take off their mask. You mentioned Super Bowl parties yesterday. I'm wondering how much these variants, these mutations are really changing the game right now.

ADRIAN BURROWES: Yeah, so again, if I was to use an analogy, with the flu every year, we do have mutations in that as well that we deal with. And so, I'm not surprised by the mutations. And, you know, it's a very smart virus. And again, it doesn't make the virus more aggressive. It just makes it more-- a little bit easier for you to catch. And so, it's something that we're going to continue to struggle with.

And I agree. As people get COVID fatigue and stop doing the things that we know work, or at least work in terms of decreasing your risk, in terms of wearing a mask and distancing and doing the things that we need to do, as long as we keep doing those things and be vigilant, you know, that will decrease our risks. But I do anticipate going forward, that we'll be dealing with this and the mutations and the variants for quite some time.

KRISTIN MYERS: Does any of this change some of the calculations in your mind around some of the restrictions that we currently have in place and also some of the restrictions that we've been lifting? New York City says that they're going to be reopening middle schools this month, which is huge news. I know many parents are pleased to hear that.

But we, of course, continue to hear that these strains are out there. While the vaccination is picking up speed, it's not where a lot of folks say that they wanted it to be right now. So how would you be approaching some of the restrictions and some of the orders that we have right now, both on the state level, but also a national level?

ADRIAN BURROWES: So I think that one of the things that-- you know, and it's difficult for everyone, for the general public, as well as from the healthcare field and the politicians, is that, you know, people-- we're not going as fast as people would like us to go and certainly not as fast as we want to go.

I've always said that if you're going to open schools, you want to make sure that the teachers-- that's the front line workers in that area-- are vaccinated, right? When the children get the-- or the students get COVID-19, they typically have pretty nonaggressive courses. But the teachers, depending on the age groups, are more at risk. So I have no issue with the schools reopening if the teachers are vaccinated. And I think that if we do things in a stepwise fashion, I think that's where we're going to be successful.

What we've had so far is chaos, total chaos across the country in terms of the vaccine rollout, who gets it when. Some people are skipping the lines. These are the things that are causing issues. But if we do it in a stepwise fashion, I think that we can be successful.

KRISTIN MYERS: I'm wondering-- you were talking a little bit earlier about that pandemic fatigue. I'm wondering what some of your biggest concerns are, at least when it comes to these case counts and some of the hospitalizations, what your biggest concerns are right now. I know you mentioned that in two weeks, you're anticipating some sort of a spike.

I'm wondering, as we continue to get into warmer months-- we're now in February-- once March, April, may hit, where you think we are going to be, especially as folks, younger people, especially, which are, frankly, spreading the virus the most amongst everyone, say, hey, I'm going to go to the park, I'm going to go see my friends. I'm going to the beach, and I'm going on vacation.

ADRIAN BURROWES: Yeah, and I think that that's where we're going to be. You know, I think that we will probably have a rise in the numbers just because, you know, I'm in Florida. Tampa won the Super Bowl yesterday. There were people in the streets all over the place having these parties. And so-- and that's where the spread is coming from. And you're right. The younger people are more to blame, if you want to say that, for the spreads because when they do get COVID, they tend to do pretty well.

I do anticipate that as the warmer months move along, because we've had a year, basically, dealing with COVID and being, quote, "in captivity," as a patient told me this morning, people will start to go out a lot more this summer. And I think that as time goes forward, we may see even more of a spike going forward. Hopefully, by then, we'll have more people vaccinated. But I think we'll be dealing with this again, much like we did last year, with these ebbs and flows in the virus.

KRISTIN MYERS: Absolutely. I've been looking on Instagram, and it looked, I thought, everyone in Florida was immune based on all of the parties and folks that were hanging out at bars. I thought something was happening in your state that I perhaps did not know about. But it looks like it's just irresponsibility, plain and simple.

Dr. Adrian Burrowes, family medicine doctor and CEO of CFP Physicians Group, thank you so much for bringing us those very important updates and also reminders to wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay away from everyone else. Thank you so much for joining us.