The BA.2 subvariant, a more contagious version of Omicron, has already increased the number of cases of Covid-19 in most parts of Europe. In the United States, the number of cases has been stable for the past week and has undergone a sharp decline over the past two months. Experts are expected to increase soon.
In today’s newsletter, we’ll discuss four promising strategies for minimizing Covid’s tolls in the coming months.
1. More boosters
Dr. Aaron Richterman, a Philadelphia infectious disease specialist, regularly sees patients who have been vaccinated with Covid but have not received booster shots. Some people are unaware that they are eligible for boosters, while others have heard about boosters but are not interested in them. “I don’t feel like I need it,” a patient, an older man, recently told Richterman.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, nearly a quarter of American adults are vaccinated but not booster shots (any American who was vaccinated more than 6 months ago). Qualified).
These vaccinated but unboosted Americans are clearly willing to receive Covid shots. And many will benefit greatly from receiving boosters. Without boosters, your immune system tends to be weakened. With boosters, people are even more protected than they were right after receiving the boosters. The second shot, the data shows.
Consider the California figures that publish detailed data for each vaccination situation. For every one million boosted Californians, less than two have been hospitalized in Covid at any given time recently.
“I’m most worried about the lack of booster uptake and immunodeficiency in older people,” Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, told me.
However, many Americans have not yet received this message. What would be useful? A prominent public service campaign with a particular focus on booster shots rather than vaccination was possible. Therefore, there was encouragement from a politically conservative voice. Less than 30% of Republican adults receive it. Boosters; Many Republicans haven’t even received the first shot.
“The most powerful weapon we have so far is vaccination, which includes a first dose, a second dose, and a third dose.”
What about the 4th dose (that is, the 2nd booster shot)? The Biden administration will soon begin offering them to people over the age of 50. Evidence suggests that these shots may provide additional protection, but like Caitlin, it’s less important than the first booster shot, epidemiologist Jeterina in her newsletter. Explaining.
Vaccination is impossible or ineffective for a small proportion of Americans. This group includes those who have been treated for cancer and those who have had a specific organ transplant.
Fortunately, there are now medicines that can help many of them. This is an injection called Evusheld developed by AstraZeneca with government funding. This seems to provide months of protection, and the Biden administration has ordered enough doses to treat 850,000 people.
However, in warehouses, pharmacies and hospitals, about 80% of the available doses remain unused, reports my colleagues Amanda Morris and Sheryl Gay Stolberg. For some reason, many patients are unaware of the presence of Evusheld. Some hospitals have refused to distribute it to eligible patients and are saving it for those who think they may benefit more from it.
“The biggest problem is that there is no guidance, prioritization, or deployment at all,” NYU Langone Health’s Dr. Dorry Segev told The Times.
Biden administration officials have worked with state authorities, hospitals, doctors and patient advocates to eliminate uncertainty. They still have a long way to go.
3. Post-infection treatment
Knowledge gaps also impede the distribution of Paxlobid, a post-infection treatment by Pfizer. This seems to significantly reduce the chances of Covid’s disease becoming severe. Most effective when prescribed shortly after the onset of symptoms, but many Americans do not know it. Exists.
Fortunately, Paxlovid has become more widely available in the last few weeks. If you belong to a high-risk group and are infected with Covid, you should immediately consult your doctor (see the explainer here).
One thing to keep in mind: The government has so far only allowed Paxlovid to people at high risk, such as those over the age of 65 and those with serious underlying illnesses. Many Americans, especially LDP members, know they are nervous about their Covids and are at risk and may want to look for Paxlovids.
However, as the graph above shows, most boosted people remain at a very low risk of developing severe Covid. Also, the current supply of Paxlovid is not sufficient to treat near all infected people, especially when the number of cases increases. It’s fragile. ” Dr. Scott Dryden Peterson of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston told Bloomberg News.
If many young, otherwise healthy people rush to get a Paxrovid prescription, they may be taking it effectively from vulnerable people.
The obligation of a wide mask does not do much to prevent the spread of Omicron. Too many people wear low quality masks and sometimes take them off, and Omicron is contagious enough to take advantage of these gaps.
However, masks still help reduce the spread of Covid:
These may require high quality masks and are especially useful in hospitals and elderly homes where many people are vulnerable.
Dr. Shira Delon of Tufts Medical Center said that masks also make sense for people who return to work or school 5-10 days after a Covid infection. To tell..
Former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden states that anyone who is personally worried about Covid can wear a mask. High quality masks protect the wearer even if others nearby are not wearing the mask.
All four steps have small costs and great benefits.
They avoid contributing to the ongoing isolation and turmoil of the pandemic, such as closing classrooms and keeping children home from school for weeks. And they can save lives. Covid’s official death toll in the United States has already exceeded 975,000. The majority of deaths are now avoidable by vaccination and other treatments.
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