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Covid cases are rising in the US

Covid cases are falling in the U.S. and mask orders are being revoked. However, more than a third of U.S. wastewater sample sites rose to Covid-19 levels in the first 10 days of March. So will Covid disappear or not?

For experts, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Americans still don’t need to drop their guards. “The world has decided that Covid is over for some reason, and that really worries me,” said Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale Medical School in Yale. “To get rid of all these orders so quickly is to demand trouble.”

The situation

Throughout the pandemic, the trend for Covid-19 in the US has been more than a few weeks in Europe and the UK. In most parts of Europe, Covid cases are on the rise again after plunging from winter omicron peaks.

“As cases are growing abroad, scientific and medical experts have made it clear that Covid-19 cases may be on the rise here in the United States in the coming months,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned at a conference on Tuesday. night.

His remarks were made two weeks after the White House removed the mask requirements and did so.

“What is happening in Europe may very well be a forecast for the US, especially without a mask,” said Yale Iwasaki.

There are three main factors driving the rise of international infections, all of which can be applied in the U.S., experts say. The first is Omicron’s questionable cousin, labeled BA. 2, is said to be more transmissible than its predecessor, according to a previous study of Danish printing. In Europe, the initial omicron strain, BA.1, has quickly surpassed and now covers most cases in the UK, according to its Office for National Statistics.

This has not yet happened in the U.S., although the prevalence of BA.2 has been on the rise in the U.S. in recent weeks. Control and Prevention.

Data from the UK Health Security Agency show that the increase in Covid cases in the country was accompanied by more than half of all general infections with BA.2.

Andy Pekosz, a virologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said it’s important to examine whether the rise in the prevalence of a variant is consistent with an increase in cases. Although the percentage of BA.2 cases in the U.S. has almost doubled in the past week, there has yet to be an increase in Covid infections, he noted.

One reason for the delay in the rise of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. “BA.2 may be the delay in appearing here,” Pekosz said. “The US has also delayed raising public health interventions for most of Europe by a few weeks, so as BA.2 is growing here and public health interventions are rising, it will be difficult to assess each individual’s contribution to any future increase.”

Decreased immunity is another factor that drives the rise of infections abroad. Despite high vaccination rates in much of Europe, recovery rates are still around 50%. In the U.S., booster rates are even lower, according to the CDC. Protection from the initial two-dose series of vaccines decreases after six months. In addition, the immunity of the previous infection also decreases over time and new variants may make antibodies from past strains more effective.

And the third factor is that mask orders have been raised around the world and people’s behavior has changed. This is not the only reason for the increase in cases, but combined with a decrease in immunity and a more transmissive variant, it can certainly lead to an increase in cases.

“Whatever circulating variant, when these public health interventions disappear, you should expect to see a plain or maybe a small rise in cases,” Pekosz said.

What are the experts doing now?

BA.2 does not appear to be more severe than omicron, which means that the symptoms are relatively mild for most healthy people who are vaccinated. British researchers have found that BA.2 has no higher risk of hospitalization than the original omicron mutations.

But the concern lies in many unknowns with omicron, which is still relatively new. The same researchers in the UK found cases of re-infection with BA.2 after omicron infection, which means people cannot rely on prior immunity to prevent future infections. Studies are being done to better understand why this may be BA.2.

Some epidemiologists have expressed concern that the virus is evolving to produce more problematic variants. European researchers in Nature Reviews Microbiology say that omikron has shown that Covid has the ability to mutate rapidly in a short time to better prevent a person’s immunity and even genetically deviate between subtypes, as BA.2 does.

Pekosz said the question of whether omicron can cause long Covid is still a mystery. Even less is known about how BA.2 takes Covid into the long equation. The condition, when the symptoms of the virus last long after the infection, may worsen and may be associated with serious neurological and cardiac problems.

“It’s not clear how long Covid can effectively lead to omicron infection,” he said. “Again, it’s very different from other variants. I wouldn’t be surprised if Covid had a different rate of long-term impact.”

What protective measures do we have?

The two-year pandemic life has given us some strategies to mitigate the impact of the virus.

There are no plans to return the masks yet. Face masks have been discarded in schools, and withholdings like public transportation will drop their requirements next month.

Ali Mokdad, a professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Assessment and director of health strategy at the University of Washington, said he did not think it was necessary to return mask orders to the U.S. right now, especially in warmer weather. it was. But in higher-risk situations, and for weaker populations, he recommends disguise.

Pekosz, of Johns Hopkins, said children under the age of five who have not yet been approved for vaccination and other unvaccinated school-age children should be admitted. Children under the age of 17 were hospitalized at staggering rates during the rise of omicron.

“If you’re in one of those high-risk groups for serious Covid, it’s perfectly acceptable to continue masking when you’re inside or entering group settings,” Pekosz said. “I’ve always encouraged people not to wear masks if they don’t feel comfortable wearing masks.

Experts continue to emphasize that vaccines are the best protection against the virus – and against serious illness and long-term covidity. Two-shot RNA messenger vaccines and promoters, such as those carried out by Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna Inc., reduce the risk of serious illness. But most people need a boost, which is essential for strengthening immunity to new variants.

Several studies have shown that two shots of the vaccine plus a dose of booster were effective in preventing hospitalization with delta and omicron, and with an added bonus for those who had a new infection.

Antivirals and home tests are more available than in previous rises, which may help if Covid’s cases start to grow significantly again. Funding for new treatments is strained, however, the White House has warned. This month, the Biden administration has launched a second wave of home testing to require another round of homes that have already received four tests through the U.S. Postal Service program.

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