Kevin Sowers, Pres. Hopkins Health on confronting the COVID challenge


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A grim reminder that the COVID crisis is not yet a thing of the past came last week when health officials in South Africa were the first to announce the appearance of a new variant, named omicron, which has since been identified in more than 15 countries. CBS News is reporting today that the new variant appeared in Europe at least a week before it was detected in southern Africa. It is only a matter of time before it is detected in the US.

The World Health Organization has warned that the new variant poses a “very high risk” globally, but questions about how transmissible it is, how virulent it may be, and if our current regimen of vaccines provide enough protection remain unanswered. Yesterday, President Biden said that the omicron variant is a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”

The US and many other nations have banned travel from South Africa and 7 other countries in southern Africa, a decision that has been met with derision in the affected countries.This new development is just the latest challenge facing health care providers across the country.

Tom's Newsmaker guest today is Kevin Sowers, who serves as both the president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine. In that capacity, he oversees six hospitals, and Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, which has more than 40 outpatient sites throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C.

[Full disclosure: Tom Hall's wife, Linell Smith, works in the Marketing and Communications Department at Johns Hopkins Medicine.]

Kevin Sowers joins us by phone from his office in Baltimore.

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