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COVID cases are dropping nationally, but new concerns are growing the progress will be short-lived

"As bad as things have been, we're about to see something far worse," Dr. Peter Hotez tells KHOU 11 News.

HOUSTON — New COVID-19 vaccines could be weeks away from rolling out and vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez says it's critical to get them approved quickly. He says we're now in a race against the spread of concerning new variants.

"As bad as things have been, we're about to see something far worse," Hotez said.

COVID cases are dropping nationally, but new concerns are growing the progress will be short-lived as new variants from the UK, Brazil and South Africa start spreading across the country.

RELATED: South African COVID-19 variant found in South Carolina, first cases in U.S.

"There's no end in sight," Hotez said. "We'll be getting 700,000 or 800,000 deaths unless we can get ahead of this. I'm really worried about the variants."

It's why new vaccines can't come soon enough. Johnson & Johnson released promising new data on its vaccine. It reported 85% overall efficacy at preventing severe illness leading to hospitalization and deaths. It's a one-dose vaccine and the company plans to apply for FDA emergency authorization soon.

RELATED: Vaccine update: Johnson & Johnson's single shot prevents COVID-19 — but it's not as effective

"Quite honestly, a single dose of J & J is probably better than a single dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine," Hotez said.

Watch the full interview in the video below:

Hotez says slightly different efficacy rates should not worry the public. The important thing is to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Every vaccine approved will work to save your life.

"Don't wait for one vaccine, get what you can," Hotez said. "Don't be hesitant about it."

If the J & J vaccine is approved, it will help increase vaccination rates with increased supply, but it won't be enough to get us to the three million shots per day needed to turn this pandemic around. Hotez says to get there we're going to need more vaccine approved.

"It has to be all hands on deck to vaccinate the entire U.S. population or 3/4's of the population by the summer," Hotez said. "That has to be the number one priority."

In addition to J & J, there are three other vaccines still working their way to approval. That includes the BioE- Baylor College of Medicine vaccine currently being tested in India. Hotez thinks we'll need all of them if we want to get back to normal.