Is there a new COVID Variant coming?
Scientists and health officials are preparing for a new wave of the pandemic, the first significant test of the country’s strategy. Virus, limiting its impact. At the local, state and federal levels, the government eased restrictions and sought to restore normality. Encouraging Americans to return to pre-pandemic routines, officials lift mask and vaccine requirements and show no inclination to close offices, restaurants, or theatres.
What do experts say?
Scientists warn that the United States is not doing enough to stop a new wave from threatening vulnerable Americans and turning lives upside down again. The new pills can cure the infection, but efforts by the federal government to buy more drugs have not been successful. The Congressional aid package is on hold, although agencies are running out of money for testing and treatment.
“You use your rest time to do hard work,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Don’t use silence to forget.”
What does the data say?
According to the U.K. data, the vaccines also protect against BA.2, as they did against the previous version of Omicron, and BA.2 does not cause more or less severe disease. To predict what lies ahead, U.S. health officials and scientists debated what factors caused the rise in cases in Europe and how powerful the wave could become. Sub-version BA.2 began its March across Europe when some countries were lifting restrictions and masking mandates, giving it an additional impetus for its distribution. British scientists also partly attribute the surge in cases in this country to the fact that immunity tends to weaken over time due to previous vaccinations or infections.
In some parts of Europe, like Denmark and the Netherlands, wave BA.2 has peaked. Hospital admissions have remained stable or slightly increased in other countries where cases have increased since early March. But the U.K. has become a more explicit example of the possibility that the surge in BA.2 cases will also start filling up hospital beds.
The U.K. plans to start giving the fourth dose to older people by the end of the month to boost protection. Even in the United States, scientists are concerned that more than six months have passed since the last doses of the vaccine for so many people, leading to reduced immunity levels. Pfizer and BioNTech have asked U.S. regulators to allow the fourth dose for the elderly, while Moderna seeks approval for additional amounts for all adults.
It is unclear whether relaxing Covid rules in the U.S. will help promote transmission to the same extent as in some European countries. Some parts of the United States were effectively unrestricted for several months.
Less than half of Americans who received doses of the primary vaccine received boosters, leaving the United States precarious. Even though the number of cases is low, about 1,200 Americans die from Covid each day, much higher than in Western Europe, where older people tend to get more vaccines and boosters. The U.K. estimates that two doses become less effective in preventing Omicron-related hospitalizations over time, while the booster dose restores protection to a significantly higher level.
With boosters installed at the Covid Center in Washington DC, Americans are still dying from Covid at nearly 1,200 a day. Whatever happens, the scientists said now is the time to vaccinate more people while the country still has a say in any waves that come. “We need to read how the federal government uses its resources to move from nursing home to nursing home and church to church to grow supporters,” said Sam Scarpino, executive director of pathogen surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation.
But the federal government is warning that funds to fight the pandemic are running out. Republicans in the Senate said they would not approve $15 billion in new coronavirus relief without offsetting spending cuts elsewhere. Democrats in the House of Representatives opposed a proposal to reuse money earmarked for state governments to respond to the pandemic. With the aid package currently on hold, federal officials have said they should start cutting the supply of monoclonal antibodies to states by more than 30 per cent next week.
The government has bought 20 million antiviral pills, but orders for more have been put on hold. And by June, officials say, the federal government’s efforts to ensure companies continue to produce enough tests will run out, jeopardizing capacity by the end of the year. Federal officials don’t have enough money to secure the purchase of additional vaccines for specific options if they are needed, federal officials said. And while all Americans will be affected by these shortcomings, uninsured people will face particular risks because the national test, care and vaccination reimbursement program for those without insurance could end in early April.
“There are so many things we could have done, but the U.S. has always preferred to be reactive rather than proactive. It has cost us dearly,” said Ann Rimouin, an epidemiologist at the Los Angeles University of California. “We wore rose-coloured glasses instead of vision correction.”