Why We Can’t Turn the Corner on Covid

For public health, maintaining this balance means maintaining testing capacity, data collection, contact tracing, and genome monitoring. In general, these tools, while still imperfect, are much more powerful today than they were in the early months of the pandemic under the Trump administration. The Centers for Disease Control were recently recognized for taking everything to the next level by creating the Centers for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, staffed by some of the best experts in the country. “It’s the A-Team – it has the potential to change the CDC’s approach,” said Mark McClellan, a former FDA commissioner who now heads the Duke-Margolis Health Policy Center.

Much more attention must also be paid to improving and expanding access to treatments, particularly drugs that can be taken orally outside of a hospital or infusion center, say McClellan and other experts, to keep the virus at bay. One ray of hope: The monoclonal antibodies currently available, which have to be injected or infused, are being used more and more frequently and are saving lives. White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients announced this week that 670,000 monoclonal antibody courses were shipped in August, “six times the number in July.”

“I’m a huge fan of monoclonal antibodies,” said West Virginia health commissioner Ayne Amjad. These treatments are laboratory-made versions of human antibodies that target the coronavirus and often prevent infected people from becoming seriously ill. Trump was treated with monoclonal antibodies when he contracted Covid last fall.

Amjad is trying to make the injectable version much more readily available in their state, including through health officials and mobile vans that run coronavirus tests and vaccinations – in theory, a mobile van could test you for Covid and if the test is positive, give you right away a shot of antibodies. Meanwhile, it is also trying to raise public awareness so that people at risk know they need to ask health care providers to do so; treatment works best when given in the first few days after exposure.

Delta is more dangerous to children than previous versions of the coronavirus, and children who are not old enough to be vaccinated can spread it too. Schools are becoming the focus. In fact, schools are already a focal point, as evidenced by the legal and political wars over mask mandates, fueled in some cases by Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis with presidential ambitions. More fighting is likely as school systems attempt to enforce or waive quarantines if cases are discovered.

Navigating the new school year – which overlaps with many office openings – requires a lot of nuanced public health communication – and nuances aren’t the forte of the American public. In a politically torn country where even those who accept and acknowledge the threat posed by the Delta crave certainty, statements from health officials like “up to a point,” “science develops,” or “we have to wait and see” are becoming commonplace “Analyzed. – are not the medical comfort foods that people are looking for, especially when it comes to their children.

This makes messaging difficult, especially when some Americans view changes in public health communications as a lie or betrayal, rather than a natural result of learning more about a previously unknown disease. The changing guidelines on masks are part of the reasons a section of the public turned to Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease doctor and a key Biden consultant.

“We continue to learn about the virus and vaccination, and our guidelines and recommendations need to change and keep pace,” said Murthy, the surgeon general. “We have to make sure that we are clearly and transparently communicating what is changing and why it is changing. It’s easy to say, harder to do. ”It requires the public to understand both the ongoing risks and the steps they can take now“ to see family and friends much more safely ”.

As grim as Delta is Progress has been made beyond vaccination. Many political levers have already been pulled, but can still be refined and expanded.

This new CDC analysis center should be able to track new variants, making it less likely that an epsilon or zeta will hit us as hard as Delta.

The monoclonal antibodies combined with steroids and other drugs used in hospitals save lives, although more treatments are needed both domestically and abroad.

Testing labs are keeping pace with demand for most of the surge, and the government has just invested $ 200 million to increase the availability of rapid tests that people can take with them at home (or at work). But to be a game changer, the price has to come way, way down, Gounder said. “Nobody wants to spend $ 25 per person per day. If we could get them down to a dollar a piece, “people could test before a dinner party, before a game date, before visiting grandma and grandpa.

There is a better understanding of how to handle even large events with vaccination, testing and masking requirements. There was great concern about Lollapalooza in Chicago earlier this summer, but there were about 200 cases among the 385,000 attendees, according to the city’s health officials. Half were breakthroughs; the unvaccinated (who had to present a negative test within 72 hours of participating) had a higher risk of disease. Masking that wasn’t required throughout the festival might have added another layer of defense.

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