Sub-variant BA.2 – an even more contagious version of Omicron – has caused Covid-19 cases to increase across most of Europe. In the United States, melon sales have held steady over the past week, end of two months of sharp declineand many experts expect a price increase soon.
Today’s newsletter looks at four promising strategies to mitigate Covid’s revenue in the coming months.
1. More boosters
Dr. Aaron Richterman, an infectious disease specialist in Philadelphia, regularly meets patients who have been vaccinated against Covid but have not received a booster shot. Some do not know if they are eligible for booster injections. Others had heard of boosters but were not interested. “I just feel like I don’t need it,” one patient — an elderly man — recently told Richterman.
That is the common attitude. According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly a quarter of adults in the US have been immunized but have not received a booster shot. (Any American who received the vaccine more than five months ago — or two months after the Johnson & Johnson shot — is eligible.)
These vaccinated but uninhibited Americans are clearly open to getting a Covid vaccine. And many will benefit significantly from being enhanced. Without boosters, immunity tends to weaken. With the booster, people were even more protected than they were when they were captured shortly after receiving the second shot, the data showed.
Consider the numbers from California, which publishes detailed data by vaccination status. For every million Californians boosted, less than two people have been hospitalized with Covid at any time recently:
“I remain most concerned about the lack of enhanced absorption in the elderly and immunocompromised,” Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, told me.
However, many Americans still have not received this message. What can help? A prominent public service campaign, with a particular focus on booster shots rather than vaccinations, could be. So there can be encouragement from politically conservative voices. Less than 30 percent of adult Republicans were boosted; many Republicans Haven’t received even the first shot.
“The most powerful weapon we have by far is vaccination,” Richterman told me, “and that includes the first dose, the second dose, and the third dose.”
What about the fourth dose (ie the second booster)? The Biden administration will soon begin providing for anyone aged 50 and over. Evidence suggests that these shots may provide additional protection, but they are less important than the first booster shots, says Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist, explained in her newsletter.
For a small percentage of Americans, vaccination is not possible or less effective. This group includes people who are being treated for cancer and those who have received certain organ transplants.
Fortunately, a drug now exists that can help many of them. It’s an injectable drug called Evusheld, developed by AstraZeneca with help from government funding. It appears to provide months of protection, and the Biden administration has ordered enough doses to treat 850,000 people.
But about 80 percent of the available dose sitting idle, in warehouses, pharmacies and hospitals, my colleagues Amanda Morris and Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported. Among the reasons: Many patients were unaware of the existence of Evosheld. Some doctors aren’t sure who qualifies. Some hospitals are refusing to distribute it to eligible patients, saving it for those they think could benefit more from it.
“The biggest problem is that there are absolutely no guidelines or priorities or any implementation in place,” NYU Langone Health Dr. D’ Segev told The Times. “It was a mess.”
Biden administration officials worked with state officials, hospitals, doctors and patient advocates to clear up the uncertainty. They still have a long way to go.
3. Post-infection treatments
A knowledge gap is also hindering the distribution of Paxlovid – a post-infection treatment from Pfizer that seems to significantly reduce the chances of Covid disease becoming severe. It is most effective when prescribed soon after symptoms begin, but many Americans are unaware it exists.
The good news is that Paxlovid has become more widely available in recent weeks. If you are in a high-risk group and are infected with Covid, you should talk to your doctor right away. (Here is an explainer.)
One thing to note: The Government has so far only authorized Paxlovid to people at high risk, like those aged 65 and over or those with a serious underlying medical condition. I know that many Americans, especially the Liberal Democratsare worried about their own risk of contracting Covid and may be tempted to seek out Paxlovid.
But the risk of developing severe Covid for most boosters remains very low, as the chart above shows. And the current supply of Paxlovid isn’t large enough to treat anywhere near all of those infected, especially if cases soar. “Our supply is slim,” says Dr. Scott Dryden-Peterson at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. told Bloomberg News.
If more young, otherwise healthy people rush to get their Paxlovid prescriptions, they may be taking doses from vulnerable people.
Wide mask quest haven’t done much to prevent the spread of Omicron. Too many people wear masks of poor quality or sometimes take them off, and Omicron is so contagious that it takes advantage of these gaps.
But masks can still help reduce the spread of Covid:
They are especially useful in hospitals and nursing homes, where high-quality masks may be required and where there are many vulnerable people.
Masks also make sense for people who have returned to work or school 5 to 10 days after contracting a Covid infection, said Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center speak.
Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, noted that anyone worried about Covid, for whatever reason, can wear a mask. High quality mask will protect the wearer even if others nearby aren’t wearing masks.
All four of these steps have small costs and big benefits.
They avoid contributing to the pandemic’s continuing crisis of isolation and disruption, such as closing the classroom and keep children at home out of school for weeks at a time. And they can save lives. The official death toll of Covid in the US has surpassed 975,000. But with the availability of vaccines and other treatments, most deaths are now avoidable.
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ARTS AND IDEAS
Decades after his death, Andy Warhol is still everywhere. The artist was the subject of an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, several theatrical productions, and a series of Netflix documentaries. A play in London,”Collaboration” — about his relationship with Jean-Michel Basquiat — is being adapted for the big screen.
When Brooklyn Museum Exhibition, which runs until June 19, highlighting Warhol’s faith and Catholic upbringing, the Netflix series “Andy Warhol’s Diary” offers a deeper look at romantic relationships and strange identities. his strange. “Together,” Laura Zornosa writes in The Times, “The works create a kaleidoscope portrait of the person underneath the white wig.”