With coronavirus case rates declining nationwide – and particularly in California – there is growing optimism that the highly infectious Delta variant may finally begin to lose its many-year-old grip. month.
Still, the presence of COVID-19, while not as powerful as it was at the start of the year, looms large, especially as fall and winter approach.
“We seem to have turned a corner in our fight against COVID. But we’ve already taken turns before we hit oncoming trains, ”Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the UC San Francisco Department of Medicine, said at a press conference. recent campus forum. “Part of the challenge for us is that Delta is much better at their job of infecting people than the original virus was. Our future will therefore be determined in part by the answer to this question: Is Delta as bad as it gets? “
The even bigger question, however, is what’s the end of the game, what’s the way out of the pandemic?
It is virtually impossible to imagine a scenario in which the coronavirus would be eradicated from the world, according to experts.
“There has only been one human disease that has been eradicated, and that is smallpox,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s foremost expert on infectious diseases.
The coronavirus is also unlikely to be “eliminated” – meaning there is no year-round transmission of the disease nationwide – anytime soon, if ever, said Fauci. The United States is unlikely to achieve the same kind of victory over COVID-19 in the near future as it ultimately did with polio, which is no longer nationally diagnosed but remains a problem threatens In other countries.
A more likely situation, at least in the short term, is to bring COVID-19 under “control,” meaning “that there is a low level of infection that is not significantly disrupting society,” he said. Fauci said this week.
Some African countries, for example, have achieved this level of general protection against malaria.
The United States remains far from doing the same with the coronavirus, however.
Fauci has set a goal of fewer than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases per day nationwide.
And while the new US case rate has fallen more than 40% since the peak of the Delta outbreak, the daily count remains nine times above Fauci’s ambitious threshold.
And California, despite all of its progress, is still ranked as having “substantial” community transmission, the second-worst category on the four-point scale established by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Statewide, daily new cases of coronavirus are down 66% from the Delta’s peak: from about 15,000 new cases per day to just over 5,000 cases per day.
There are still about 1,500 Americans – and about 100 Californians – who die from COVID-19 every day. These rates are far from peaking in the winter wave, but the toll is still devastating for those who have lost loved ones.
How can we control
So how do you get there?
“Obviously you know what the answer is: it’s vaccination,” Fauci said during a briefing.
Unless vaccination rates improve dramatically, some experts have said, it is possible that the pandemic will return – especially later in the year, when more people travel and congregate indoors during the season. holidays.
“To avoid the cycle of relapses every few months, we need to see a significant increase in immunization coverage,” Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said last month.
Globally, over 56% of Americans and 60% of Californians of all ages have been fully immunized, according to at the CDC.
But there is still a long way to go. Immunization rates among adolescents, adolescents and young adults are most in need of improvement.
Vaccinating more adults will help protect children
With children under 12 still not eligible for the vaccine, growing evidence shows that getting more adolescents and adults vaccinated will help protect children from infection.
A to study from Sweden cited by CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky, examined nearly 2 million people from 800,000 families. The study found that as the number of family members vaccinated against COVID-19 increased, the risk to family members who had not been vaccinated decreased.
“Families with three or more family members vaccinated offered more than 90% protection than those who were not vaccinated,” Walensky said Wednesday.
Lowering levels of community transmission also protects children. A led CDC to study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics which examined the risk of COVID-19 in children during times of high transmission found that “children had similar infection rates to adults – confirming that the risk in the community is translates into a risk inside the household, ”said Walensky.
Currently, only people 12 years of age and older can be vaccinated. But a decision to allow injections for children aged 5 to 11 could be made in early November, US surgeon general Vivek Murthy said in a briefing this week.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee will meet on October 26 to discuss the matter and then make recommendations to the agency. The FDA will then decide whether or not to authorize the use of the vaccine in an emergency.
A CDC advisory committee will meet on November 2 and come up with its own recommendations. The agency will then offer its own clinical recommendations to healthcare providers.
This schedule means that young children could be partially immunized before Thanksgiving and fully protected before Christmas.