COVID-19 cases are dropping in the US, but does that mean people should let their guard down? Not according to Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who explains what to expect next in an episode of The Osterholm update. “I can assure you that what COVID is doing right now, just in terms of mortality, is far from trivial,” says Dr. Osterholm. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Clear signs that you’ve had COVID.
Cases are falling, but COVID is still serious
“So is this virus claiming as many lives now as it did during earlier points in the pandemic? Fortunately, the answer is no, but as we’ve talked about over and over in this podcast, each of those deaths is the father, mother, brother or sister of someone, grandchild, granddaughter, niece or nephew, friend, colleague – someone you care about,” says Dr. Osterholm. “So as we talk about these numbers today, please don’t let us get comfortable with the fact that they’re just numbers. They’re not. So, as someone who’s been on the front lines, dealing with a lot of infectious diseases Over the course of my 47-year career, I can assure you that what COVID is doing right now, just in terms of mortality, is far from trivial, even with two and a half years into the pandemic. We are seeing this virus emerge. as a leading cause of death in many places.”
The fourth leading cause of death
“Japan is currently reporting an average of 285 COVID deaths per day,” says Dr. Osterholm. “The highest was since the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, based on the most recent average for the country, the virus would be the fourth leading cause of death there. The US at this point is the fourth leading cause of death, and the UK, there were almost twice as many deaths from COVID this summer than last summer, more than 5,700 this summer versus 2,900 last summer. So it’s not done yet.”
Health services are still overwhelmed
“I think most of us would agree that our communities are done with COVID, whether the virus is done with us or not, but how many are willing to get new vaccines?” says Dr. Osterholm. “How is the healthcare system now? Most people are unaware of the fact that healthcare systems across the country are still overwhelmed. At this point, even with the limited amount of activity coming from COVID, compared to the major outbreaks. Some of this is a reflection of the deferred health care that did not occur during the COVID pandemic that is now manifesting itself in advanced cancers and other conditions. If they had been better managed during the pandemic, it would not mean that hospitalizations are necessary today.”
Americans are behind on boosters
“If you look at those over 50, only 11% of the US population has received a fourth dose of the vaccine,” says Dr. Osterholm. “Only 26% of people age 65 and over have received a fourth dose of the vaccine. We’re not protecting the most vulnerable when you look at these numbers. And let me add some perspective, because I think it helps us understand where We’ve had this pandemic in the United States and where we’re going. If you look at the number of deaths that have occurred, and again, I remember that it’s not just numbers. Remember that. And for many of you listening to this podcast, I don’t need to remind you. lo. You still see the eyes. You still hear the voices of those you loved, who are no longer here with us, but in 2020, in the United States, 384,536 deaths were reported.”
Life expectancy has decreased
“A new life expectancy analysis came out this week for the United States and the results are astounding,” says Dr. Osterholm. “And frankly, very sad – life expectancy in the US is now the lowest since 1996, with the average American expected to live 76 years. That’s nearly three years shorter than the average life expectancy in 2019, before the We lost three years of life expectancy during this pandemic. And just last year, life expectancy dropped from 77 to 76.1 years.”
What about the new vaccines targeting BA.4 and BA.5?
“I have no significant concerns about the safety of these vaccines as we have a good understanding of mRNA vaccines as a whole and a good safety profile for the original formulations,” says Dr. Osterholm. “These reformulations are in some ways similar to what we would do with flu shots each year, matching the vaccine of the year with the expected circulating strain. But I think that’s a challenge to draw a one-to-one parallel here. I have 47 years of experience with flu vaccines, understanding the human immune response, understanding what mouse studies can show us. We don’t have that for SARS-CoV-2. So I’m not completely comfortable with just one for – a transfer of what happens in the flu to what’s happening here. I’d like to know how these new vaccines will work, where I’m having some problems with this whole approach is the tradeoff of speed versus known effectiveness.”
Monkeypox cases are decreasing
“Here in the United States, more than 770,000 vials of vaccine have been shipped to state and local health departments,” says Dr. Osterholm. “That’s enough vaccine for almost 3 million people. In addition to immunity from vaccination, we’ve also seen an interesting phenomenon, which will become even more important over time, is immunity associated with the previous infection. disease, you’re probably developing immunity. That means over the next few days, months, and years it will protect you. The third aspect of why I think case numbers are going down is that the individuals who are infected are too sick to be active. sexual in a sense, taking a break from being at high risk in such situations to contract the virus or transmit the virus.”
How to stay safe out there
Follow public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic no matter where you live – get vaccinated or strengthened as soon as possible; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, use an N95 face maskdo not travel, social distancing, avoid large crowds, do not go indoors with people you are not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene and protect your life and the lives of others, do not visit any of these 35 places where you are most likely to catch COVID.