First, a small context about where we stand with COVID-19: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that cases and hospitalizations were on the rise last week. And while more than 50 percent of Americans now live in communities with relatively low levels of COVID-19 infection, many places now see moderate to high levels of the virus. The current 7-day average mortality rate, meanwhile, has dropped by about 1.2 percent compared to the previous week.
All of this data tells an interesting but unpredictable story, according to Dr. Shah. COVID-19 is on its way to becoming endemic or a disease that is consistently present in a population or geography and these variants are part of its journey to get there. “The trajectory of a virus like COVID-19 can change quickly. However, often as viruses become more contagious, they become less deadly,” he says.
“Viruses mutate and the hope is that with increased levels of protection and for longer, COVID-19 will become less deadly. However, it may never go away.” – Jyotsna Shah, PhD, President of the COVID-19 IGeneX Laboratory, Inc
However, Omicron BA.2 is a highly contagious Omicron branch that is now considered the dominant variant of COVID-19. “While we are still learning more about variation, studies have shown that it is more contagious than other forms of COVID-19,” Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH, Director and Founding Dean at the University of California, Irvine Program. in Public Health, it was said earlier in Well + Good. And as Anthony Fauci, MD said ABC News, BA.2 cases do not appear to be more severe than previous strains of the virus.
However, just because these measurements indicate a path to the endemic appearance of COVID-19 does not mean that it is time to disappoint our guards. “While the numbers may never reach what they were, they are by no means static. We will continue to see ups and downs in the years to come,” said Dr Shah. “Viruses mutate and the hope is that with increased levels of protection and for longer, COVID-19 will become less deadly. However, it may never go away.”
Keeping yourself safe as we enter the third summer of COVID-19 involves getting back to basics. “First, make sure you get a vaccine and booster. This is the first line of defense and it will prevent transmission as well as reduce the serious symptoms in case you get a pioneering case,” says Dr Shah. You should also continue the social distance, choose to hang out in large groups outside and get covered (regardless of your vaccination status).
There may come a day when COVID-19 is endemic — like the flu or malaria (both of which cost many lives each year). For now, however, it’s worth being careful and remembering that every safety measure you take helps yourself and your community.
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