Viewpoints: Should We Continue Masking Post Covid?; College Students Need Vaccine Priority
Opinion writers weigh in on these covid and vaccine issues.
After Covid Let's Keep Our Masks On
It has been a year since the pandemic hit India and, for me, the oddest thing is how healthy I’ve been. Like most but not all of the people I see on the streets, I have been masked up these past 12 months. I’ve washed my hands religiously and avoided crowds. As a result, for the first time in my life, I haven’t caught a cold all year. This is remarkable. Living in Delhi, with its crowds and its sudden changes of season, usually means one picks up pretty much every bug that’s going around. I am not fond of masks. And, in the steam-bath summers of north India, wearing something on your face can be stifling. And yet I find myself hoping that once this pandemic ends, the habit of mask-wearing will remain. (Mihir Sharma, 3/28)
Covid Vaccine Priority For College Students Makes Sense Even It Seems Wrong
The spring break chaos in Miami Beach and the resurgence in Covid-19 cases is leading many to wag their fingers at college students who flooded relatively open Florida and likely brought Covid-19 with them. Instead, we should be wagging our fingers at policymakers. First, we should admonish them for not having had the foresight to recognize that young people fed up with social distancing and public health restrictions for more than a year might decide to let loose. Second, they have erred by not having placed college students higher on the vaccination distribution list. It is time to rethink that policy, and fast. (Christopher R. Marsicano, 3/29)
No More Drama In Communicating About Vaccine Effectiveness
Shoring up public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines is more important than ever as we try to reach the point where enough people achieve immunity to stop the spread of the virus and end this pandemic. As it is, officials warn that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to slow the spread in order to get back to normal, given a recent spike in cases in the United States despite a steady increase in vaccinations. So it’s crucial that AstraZeneca and other vaccine makers, as well as the National Institutes of Health and public officials, adopt a new mantra when it comes to public communications about vaccine efficacy: No more drama. (3/29)
US Should Share Vaccines It’s Not Using With The World
At least 3 million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine have been sitting in American warehouses for at least a month. There are outbreaks of COVID-19 in Peru and Jordan, where AstraZeneca’s vaccine is authorized for use. AstraZeneca has not yet applied for US authorization, and any authorization likely will not come for several weeks. While these valuable doses sit, the United States is now vaccinating about 2.7 million people per day and the numbers steadily grow. This is a moral tragedy. It is also a health problem for Americans and people around the world and a huge diplomatic blunder. (Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Govind Persad, 3/30)
The New York Times:
What Can You Do Once You’re Vaccinated?
Americans have entered a new phase of the pandemic where a large part of the U.S. population is vaccinated and most is not. That leads to a big question: What can you do after you’re fully vaccinated? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued new guidelines, and other experts have weighed in with their thoughts. But when it comes to what you personally should or shouldn’t do, you will need to do your own risk assessment. I spoke to experts to develop a science-backed framework for post-vaccination decision-making. Here are important factors to keep in mind that, when paired with your own appetite for risk, can help you navigate this next stage of the pandemic. (Tara Haelle, 3/30)
Too Many Hospitalized Covid-19 Patients Are Given Antibiotics
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues into its second year, public health experts are increasingly concerned that the response to this global crisis may be accelerating another one: the development and persistence of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs. Why? All antibiotic use hastens the emergence of resistance. And although antibiotics aren’t used to treat Covid-19, which is a viral illness, they’re often prescribed to Covid-19 patients who are at risk for bacterial infection. New research from our organization, the Pew Charitable Trusts, sheds additional light on the extent to which antibiotics are being prescribed unnecessarily in the midst of the pandemic. In a study of nearly 6,000 hospital admissions between February and July 2020 among patients with Covid-19, at least one course of antibiotics was given to more than half (52%) during their hospital stays. (David Hyun and Rachel Zetts, 3/30)
The Washington Post:
Long-Haul Covid-19 Is A Big Mystery Of The Pandemic. Scientists Must Solve It.
Long-haul covid-19 is cropping up as another of the great mysteries of the coronavirus pandemic. It is a mystery because no one yet knows precisely why some people, including those who had only mild cases of covid-19 and were not hospitalized, continue to feel lousy months after infection. Lest this virus scar a generation with lasting medical ailments and mental health wounds, there’s an urgent need to figure out what’s going on and why. So far, the answers are murky. As Lenny Bernstein and Ben Guarino reported in The Post recently, clinicians and researchers in the United States have yet to reach a consensus on a definition for long-haul covid-19. They do not know how many people have it. Steven Deeks, an infectious-disease physician at the University of California at San Francisco, said the only thing certain is that an unknown proportion of those who get sick with the virus have long-term symptoms. “We know the questions,” he said. “We have no answers. Hard stop.” (3/29)