Virus Expert Just Warned This is What Comes Next
After more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us are wondering, "What's next?" Although case numbers are dropping and progress has been made in terms of COVID becoming a more treatable illness, at this point we know that the virus is unpredictable. Are more variants on the way? How can we best learn to live with the virus? What about masks? Dr. On Wednesday, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, tweeted his predictions and advice for the near future. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What About Future Variants?
Jha tweeted that the two questions he's most often asked these days are, will we see a future variant, and will we see future surges? His answer to the first question: "I don't know. No one does. Reasonable to assume we will. Let's hope we don't." And to the second: "Most likely yes. Hope not. But remember: hope isn't a strategy."
Jha's warning that we don't know what comes next echoes one made by epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm on his podcast this week. "There's no telling what the future might bring," said Osterholm. "But no matter what happens, I think there's still a lot of work to be done. And we must expect that new variants will be part of our future."
More Vaccine Outreach Needed
Jha said that health officials should focus on a "playbook" including surveillance, vaccinations, testing, ventilation/filtration, masking and therapeutics. Surveillance includes testing of wastewater to see where COVID may be spiking. On the vaccine front, more people should be encouraged to get vaccinated (including children under 5 when science indicates), and better vaccines should be developed.
Additionally, "We need to redouble our efforts to get the world vaccinated," he said. "It's not just about dosing out there…. it's also about syringes, supply chains, personnel, countering misinformation."
"Critical" That Testing Evolve This Way
Jha said it's "critical we ensure rapid tests continue to be widely available and cheap," and
That "stockpiling tests during lulls (when they are not in hot demand) is key."
During his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Biden said that next week Americans will be able to order another pack of free COVID tests from the government. The tests can ordered from covidtests.gov, or by calling 800-232-0233. The service has sent 270 million free tests to 70 million households since it launched in mid-January.
High-Quality Masks Should Be Everywhere
"Most places have removed mandatory masking and I think that is reasonable during lulls like current one," said Jha. "But high quality masks should still be ubiquitous, accessible, inexpensive. And people who want to wear one should be supported."
"We're Close" to "Huge Difference"
Jha called the availability of antiviral treatments like Paxlovid, remdesivir, and monclonal antibodies "critical."
"Once they become ubiquitous (supplies getting better), it'll make a huge difference," he said. "We need to have enough for every high risk (think immunocompromised) person who gets an infection. We're close."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.