The cause of the meteoric rise is the Omicron variant — and its more infectious subvariant, BA.2, which has already become dominant in the US, Europe and many parts of the world.
On Sunday, the ruling Communist Party announced the deployment of thousands of military personnel to the locked-down city of Shanghai to assist with the mandatory screening of all 25 million residents.
Chinese health authorities have repeatedly warned of the potential that health care systems could be overwhelmed if the virus spreads widely among the population of 1.4 billion people – especially given low vaccination rates among the elderly – as they continue their radical efforts to fight infections down.
Meanwhile, leaders in the US and Europe are finding ways to circumvent Covid-19 as it becomes endemic. Senate lawmakers this week agreed a bipartisan $10 billion Covid relief bill that would allow the Biden administration to buy more vaccines, maintain testing capacity and continue ongoing research.
That move comes as companies and several states withdraw their last remaining rules; a mask requirement on planes and airports is set to expire this month, and those leading the country’s response are sounding increasingly reluctant to impose strict new rules in the near future.
“Lockdown for the sake of lockdown makes no sense,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told DailyExpertNews last week.
In England, the few remaining Covid-19 measures ended last week, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraging Britons to be “careful and attentive” if they test positive but no longer asking them to isolate themselves.
So, which approach is most appropriate? According to experts, it is not an easy answer.
“Public health is very much a local matter,” Andy Pekosz, a virologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, told DailyExpertNews, with immunity rates that vary dramatically between countries.
That also means the spike in cases in China won’t necessarily be replicated elsewhere.
“I expect a resurgence (in the US), but it’s a very different picture even with the increase in the Omicron subvariant BA.2,” added Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University’s Gillings School of Global Public. or North Carolina. Health.
Lessler said that given the level of immunity in the population, a “mild blip” in the US is more likely than the dramatic spike in China.
YOU EARLY. WE ANSWER.
Q: Do I need a second booster shot?
A: Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a second Covid-19 booster for some individuals — adults over 50 and certain people 12 and older who are immunocompromised.
Getting a fourth dose of the vaccine isn’t “something everyone should be getting right now,” said medical analyst and emergency department Dr. Leana Wen of DailyExpertNews.
“We know that vaccination, plus that first booster, still protects you very well, including against serious illness,” she said. But “some people may want an extra level of protection; if you’re over 65, if you have chronic medical conditions, and you’re over 50, you may want to get that fourth dose.”
Wen stressed that “everyone eligible” should get the first booster shot, noting that many had not yet done so. Then, four months or more after that dose, when you qualify for another dose, consider whether you would benefit from the additional booster.
READ OF THE WEEK
First human challenge study of Covid-19 provides valuable insights into how we get sick
It only takes a tiny virus-laden drop — about the width of a human blood cell — to infect someone with Covid-19.
This is apparent from a study in which healthy volunteers deliberately infect with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The findings of this study were published March 31 in the journal Nature Medicine.
But they are also extremely valuable for understanding the course of an infection.
“Really, there’s no other type of study where you can do that, because normally patients only come to your attention when they’ve developed symptoms, and so you’re missing all those previous days when the infection is brewing,” said lead study author Dr. Christopher Chiu, infectious disease physician and immunologist at Imperial College London.
There’s no ‘magic moment’ to lift Covid-19 restrictions, researchers say
Pandemic hospital admissions have hit a new low in the US, with all 50 states lifting mask requirements effective March 25. But is there a cost to lifting restrictions and trying to return to a pre-pandemic normal?
In a new study, researchers predict that lifting masking and social distancing restrictions by March 2022 could lead to a resurgence in Covid-19 deaths in most states, based on projections from a simulation model.
The researchers simulated the lifting of restrictions at different times of the year and predicted the number of deaths that would follow using current estimates for infection and vaccination rates, taking into account differences in risk between age groups.
“There is probably no additional waiting time in any state after which it is removed [Covid-19 restrictions] will not lead to an increase in morbidity and mortality,” the study said.
How the next variant could arise
Where Omicron came from is still a mystery: how did a variant so suddenly appear that looked so different from all its older cousins? How to explain the tangle of mutations, many of which were rarely seen in interesting variants?
At a briefing in March, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergency program, said: “While the virus is reproducing itself, there are errors in reproducing its code.”
Viruses are constantly changing, often in ways that harm their survival. But occasionally, those mutations can turn out to be in favor of the virus.
Do you have to wear a mask on flights?
The rule requiring masks on planes, airports and other forms of public transportation expires this month in the US.
Experts are divided on whether that’s a good idea. Linsey Marr, an expert in the transmission of infectious diseases through aerosols, told DailyExpertNews last week that dropping the mask mandate is reasonable, with the caveat that it makes sense “as long as cases remain low.”
But you may decide to keep your cover up when you’re traveling – and the time you spend in the air is worth taking into account.
“I think I’ll definitely continue to use a mask for my own protection, especially if I’m going on a long trip,” says Dr. Richard Dawood, a London-based travel health specialist.