Covid prices are rising in the Northern Hemisphere as the weather gets colder. There are also several new Covid variants available.
What you should know
Covid or seasonal nasties
COVID has taken a heavy toll on the world, with almost seven million deaths.
Since spring, the number of deaths from any cause in the United States has not exceeded the normal level.
“If I had to choose between flu and Covid for my health, I’d pick Covid. Each individual flu case is more dangerous,” says Ashish Jha. He was a former White House Covid Coordinator and Dean of Public Health at Brown University.
While Covid has become less lethal to individuals, it also appears to have a higher rate of long-term complications.
Covid, which is more contagious than flu, peaks in the US from December to January. Flu peaks later.
Amesh Adalja is an infectious disease specialist with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He placed COVID-19 on par with RSV and flu but said it was worse than a common cold.
To boost or to not boost?
Pfizer Moderna and Novavax developed new vaccines that more closely target the current variants. All of these are offshoots from Omicron, which will become dominant by late 2021.
Most people agree that boosters are beneficial to the most vulnerable. There is disagreement about whether annual boosters add value for everyone.
Studies show that almost everyone has been infected. Prior infections and vaccines have also trained the immune system to prevent severe outcomes, even if they are unable to ward off disease.
Monica Gandhi, the author of Endemic: A Post-Pandemic Playbook, says that one-size-fits-all advice is no longer valid and can decrease public trust.
The mRNA vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna, for example, carry a small risk of heart inflammation among younger men.
Some experts do not see any downsides to recommending more vaccinations.
Ziyad al-Aly, the epidemiologist at Washington University St. Louis, said that people with low risk can still benefit from boosters. In the United States, nearly everyone is recommended to get an annual Covid shot.
Are masks still useful?
This is one of the most controversial topics of the pandemic. Experts have divergent opinions. The respected nonprofit Cochrane reviewed clinical trial data to determine if wearing masks helped reduce respiratory viruses. It found no conclusive results.
It has not been proven that broad mandates are effective.
Researchers have found that N-95 masks, which are well-fitted and high-caliber, protect people.
Gandhi, a professor from the University of California in San Francisco, said that individuals can choose to wear a well-fitted, filtered mask indoors for personal protection against respiratory pathogens, even though she believes vaccines are the best way to prevent serious disease, especially among those at high risk.
Do you want to test, or do you want to go to work instead?
Experts say that people with cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases, as well as those at high risk, should be tested if they experience symptoms.
Adaja said that these groups would benefit from antiviral treatment within five days.
Paxlovid is the most popular treatment, as it has been proven to reduce severe disease and mortality among people at high risk.
Some health systems believe that testing people at risk is enough.
Most people do not need to have a test. The National Health System of the UK advises that you should stay home when you are sick to prevent infection.
What about the long Covid?
Adalja said that the research on long Covid symptoms, which can last for several weeks or even months, is nebulous. There are no standard definitions of this condition, and it has many causes.
Al-Aly’s estimates place the prevalence between 4-7 percent or 65,000,000 people around the world.
“Unfortunately, there has been no progress in treating long Covid. “This should be a priority research area,” he said.
Prior vaccination appears to reduce the risk of developing long-term COVID-19. The condition also correlates with the severity of the infection.
One recent study found that a drug called metformin, which is used to treat diabetes, reduced the risk of persistent symptoms by 40%.