Some Valuable Steps To Follow and Fight Covid 19, Experts’ Advice


  • As we prepare to head into our second fall with the coronavirus, it’s admittedly a strange time.
  • On the one hand, the situation is better than last year, primarily because we have vaccines that are doing a terrific job of protecting the roughly 60% of Americans.
  • They are eligible and fully vaccinated, and to some extent, the additional 10% who have gotten their first dose.
A CNN News source reveals certain essential steps that should be followed to safeguard to Covid 19.

99% cases due to Delta variant 

Things are also worse, mainly because the very contagious and possibly more dangerous Delta variant currently makes up about 99% of the coronavirus in circulation in the United States.
The Delta variant has caused an uptick in infections, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths, especially in parts of the country where vaccination rates are lagging.
To add to this worrying trend, serious disease requiring hospitalization is affecting younger and healthier age groups, including children.

Unable to stamp coronavirus  

What’s becoming clear is that we, locally and globally, are not going to be able to stamp out the coronavirus completely. Experts predict it’s going to become endemic, possibly joining the other four or so common cold coronaviruses in circulation.

“We’re not going to eradicate this coronavirus like we’ve done with smallpox; it is something that I think is going to settle into a more seasonal pattern, like the flu and colds …” said Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech and an expert in the transmission of infectious diseases via aerosols.

“But right now, because it’s novel and so many people are not immune to it, it’s really ripping through the population. But I think five years from now, we will have much greater immunity either through vaccination or natural infection,” she said.

That means we are going to have to learn to “dance” with the virus — a safe co-existence — without constantly stepping on each other’s toes.

Dancing with Covid 19  

Over the past couple weeks, we spoke to experts in the world of pandemic preparedness, infectious diseases and virology to try and get guidance on how to best and most safely live our lives going into the fall.

Many of these experts live with the same concerns as everyone else, including managing the safety of unvaccinated children, and balancing the risk, given the Delta variant, with a deep desire to live a more normal life.

While nearly everyone is reluctant to make predictions nowadays, there was agreement on five strategies to be put in place. I have included our conversations, their specific reasoning, and the evidence to bolster the claims.

First Thing Vaccination 

“We need to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Marr. “I know that kids under 12 can’t get vaccinated, but when everyone else around them is vaccinated, it helps protect them too. But that’s the first thing.”

Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and an epidemiologist, echoed the sentiment.

The government is also getting tougher in its efforts to get more people vaccinated. President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that nursing homes will have to require their staff to be vaccinated or risk losing Medicare and Medicaid funding. Also Wednesday, government health officials from multiple agencies announced that booster shots will be offered starting the week of September 20 to Americans who are eight months or more beyond their second dose, due to concerns about waning immunity. That move comes on the heels of the US Food and Drug Administration last week authorizing a third vaccine dose for immunocompromised Americans.

Keep masks around, like an umbrella

Among our experts, masking up was seen almost as important as getting everyone vaccinated — especially with the ubiquity of the Delta variant. Unlike earlier variants of the coronavirus, Delta has been shown to exist in the nose and upper throat of infected people, vaccinated and not, in almost equal amounts, even though the viral load drops off much more quickly in the vaccinated, according to an as-of-yet unpublished study out of Singapore. (The vaccinated, however, get infected less frequently, develop severe symptoms much less frequently and almost always avoid hospitalization and death.)

“We need universal masking again. Because that … reduces the amount of virus that’s in the air around us [and] helps protect you individually from breathing virus in the air around you,” said Marr. “People can be spreading virus without any symptoms. So, we need this really until we can get the number of cases down.”

Right now, most of the country is being “showered” with virus, and masks, like an umbrella, can help protect us from getting drenched. When viral transmission is lower, it will be a lot safer to set aside our masks. Marr added we may not need to mask all the time. “We might want to use them in certain areas at certain times of year when there are outbreaks of colds and flus caused by respiratory viruses,” she added.

Osterholm and Marr recommended good quality masks, such as an N95, KN95, KF94, or a cloth mask that has a dedicated filter layer in the middle. Osterholm added these masks should be in plentiful supply now, compared to early in the pandemic.

Mask + Ventilation = Safe schooling 

Schools in some parts of the country are already struggling with quarantines and temporary closures as infections spread. Many parents are struggling too.

That’s why masking is especially important in schools, said Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine and associate division chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at UCSF/ San Francisco General Hospital. “Remember, we were able to open schools safely in many parts of this country even prior to any vaccinations. We know the mitigation procedures that work, and they are masks and, frankly, ventilation,” she said.

Passing the test 

As a vaccinated person, Faust said he doesn’t want to inadvertently spread it to his child, who is unvaccinated, or an immunocompromised person who may not have mounted an adequate immune response.

“So Delta changes the equation in terms of, before I would have advocated [testing] for everyone who was unvaccinated. But now I’m advocating it for everybody,” he said.

Reassess exposure risk

Faust said, given the dominance of the Delta variant, it’s time for Americans to reassess and adjust their risk of exposure if necessary, especially if they eased up on measures in the late spring and early summer.

“Delta has changed my risk calculator for myself — and I think it’s good for others [to do],” he said.

Osterholm said he, too, is reassessing and prioritizing. “I happen to be a grandparent of five wonderful young kids, none of them are vaccinated. And this has reoriented my thinking to how close contact I have with them,” he explained.

He said he doesn’t want to get them sick, so he has scaled back on activities like indoor gatherings with them. “We just have to acknowledge this is a tough time, there are no easy answers … I wish I had better information other than to say that, at least while this Delta variant is very common in our communities, now’s the time again to unfortunately go back to where we were, before the surge, in terms of how we address the issue of being with our kids and grandkids.”

Beyond the fall

It’s hard to know if coronavirus infections caused by the Delta variant will peak and rapidly fall in the United States, like they did in the United Kingdom, or if they will remain stubbornly high.

“We are not sure how this is going to play out for the next four to six months,” said Osterholm, pointing out that we are in a critical stage of the surge. “If … the Delta variant follows this pattern that it’s taken in other countries, we can expect to see — particularly the Southern sunbelt states that are getting hit so hard right now — actually show a really rapid decline in cases probably in two to three weeks. The real challenge is what’s going to happen with all the other states where we’re seeing increases … If they too light up, then this surge could actually go on well into mid-September or later.”

Regardless of which way infection rates go, Gandhi said we should aim to reduce viral transmission by all means necessary, even in the setting of effective vaccines.

“[J]ust the fact that you have more circulating virus alone will make it more likely that you get a mild breakthrough infection. And the problem with a mild breakthrough infection is you can pass on to another and that other person, if they’re unvaccinated, can get sick,” she said.

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Source: CNN



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