White House considers collective immunity strategy that could lead to thousands of deaths
Monday, Le Washington Post reported that Scott Atlas, a neurologist at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and one of President Donald Trump’s top medical advisers, wants the United States to adopt a controversial herd immunity strategy against COVID-19 .
The idea is that opening businesses and lifting other social distancing restrictions would allow the virus to quickly infect large numbers of people, leaving many with resistance to the virus. When a threshold called herd immunity is reached, it means that enough people are protected against a pathogen that it can no longer easily pass through the population. During the time needed to gain herd immunity, additional protective measures would be taken to ensure that vulnerable populations (such as the elderly in nursing homes) were safe from the endemic spread.
The strategy is similar in many ways to how Sweden handled the pandemic – keeping its economy more open than any other country. However, critics argue that the costs are unacceptable. Sweden has one of the highest infection and death rates in the world, and taking a similar approach in America could lead to dramatic increases in deaths and severe cases. Meanwhile, despite keeping much of its economy open, Sweden is still in the throes of severe economic hardship.
After The poleThe story was released, the White House said there was no current strategy in place to achieve collective immunity in this manner, and that its COVID-19 task force is still focusing on the control of the virus with an effective vaccine.
However, the president has already praised a strategy that seems similar: “We are aggressively sheltering those most at risk, especially the elderly, while allowing Americans at low risk to go back to work and school safely, and we want to see as many of these great states open, ”he said at the Republican National Convention. “We want them to be open. They must be open. They have to go back to work. ”
Despite these proposals, there are still many researchers who do not understand the virus, as the strength of long-term immunity. It is likely that even recovered patients will lose some of their protection against the virus over time, and it may even be possible to catch it several times. There is also growing evidence that many healthy young people who have only “mild” cases of COVID-19 may suffer from long-term effects – some of them debilitating – that we do. do not understand yet.
Talking quietly could reduce the risk of viral transmission
According to a recent story in Atlantic, some research suggests that speaking quietly (or not at all) may be an effective way to control the spread of the new coronavirus, especially in crowded and indoor spaces.
Research published in March in the journal PNAS showed that normal speech patterns can transmit SARS-CoV-2 to other people nearby, and that speaking louder can spread even more viral particles. While public health experts have helped Americans adopt many prevention strategies against the coronavirus, reducing the volume and number of people speaking, especially when they are in close proximity to each other, is rarely advocated. or discussed. But in Japan, like Atlantic stresses that staying silent and talking quietly, especially on trains, is a common tactic to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
“All routes of viral transmission would be damaged if we spoke less, or spoke less loudly, in public spaces,” said Jose L. Jimenez, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies disease transmission. Atlantic. “It’s just a very clear fact. It is not controversial.
It’s logic. SARS-CoV-2 is spread via viral droplets, often when a person sneezes, coughs or talks. The slower or softer a person speaks, the less likely they are to release viral droplets. Jimenez told The Atlantic that when you breathe or whisper, your respiratory system does not emit large droplets. Compared to howling, speaking softly reduces aerosols by a factor of five and keeping your mouth closed reduces them by a factor of 50.
Coronavirus cases in the United States jumped from five to six million in less than a month
The United States reported its latest count of COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the country to six million confirmed infections, according to Le New York Times. As The temperature reports, the United States only reached one million cases three months after the pandemic first hit the country. But it took less than a third of that time – 22 days – to go from 5 million to 6 million. While overall case rates in the United States have been declining since July, the United States still accounts for almost a quarter of cases worldwide.
The FDA said it would approve a coronavirus vaccine before the drug completes Phase 3 clinical trials
In an interview with the Financial Times (paywall), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Stephen M. Hahn said the regulatory agency would consider approving a COVID vaccine before it has completed its clinical trial of phase 3.
The third and final phase of clinical trials is the most robust: it recruits thousands of healthy individuals to both establish the effectiveness of a drug and screen for any potentially dangerous side effects.
Many experts fear that premature approval could lead to unintended consequences. According to Le New York Times, The Infectious Disease Society of America wrote a letter to the FDA stating that early approval could “significantly undermine COVID-19 vaccination efforts and severely erode confidence in all vaccines in the current atmosphere of reluctance with regard to vaccines.
A safe and effective vaccine remains essential to control the spread of the new virus.
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