Covid-19 cases dropping in California has led to measures for reopening, such as businesses establishments being allowed to welcome customers inside at up to 25 percent capacity, but experts are concerned about mutant variants of the virus.
“Until we reach herd immunity as declared by the CDC, and we’ve done a good job across the world — not just in the US — in achieving high vaccination rates, I am concerned about Covid returning,” Dr Nirav Shah, senior scholar at Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center (in photograph above), told indica News.
“As we’ve seen, the virus doesn’t respect borders, and we must continue with known, effective measures such as wearing masks, physical distancing, and avoiding large gatherings until control is achieved.”
Schools are opening up in a hybrid model too.
Asked about it, Dr Shah said: “This doesn’t mean schools should be closed — and thoughtful plans for re-opening should be pursued.”
Dr Shah was a speaker at a recent conference hosted by Ethnic Media Services, titled, Vaccine vs. Variants: Which Wins the Pandemic Race?
The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, Dr Shah explained to indica News, have established three levels to describe the many new variants: Variants of Interest (lowest risk), Variants of Concern, and Variants of High Consequence (highest risk).
There are three identified Variants of Interest as of today, and five Variants of Concern including the UK variant.
Variants of High Consequence are those that have “escaped” current prevention and medical countermeasures. This means that they might not be detected by current tests, current vaccines are significantly reduced in their effectiveness (people who’ve received a vaccine can get Covid with such a new strain), they result in more severe disease and increased hospitalizations.
“Thankfully, no Variants of High Consequence have been identified as of today, but our fear is that if we relax public health measures — mask mandates, bans on large gatherings — too quickly, the higher rate of overall Covid might lead to the emergence of such a strain,” Dr Shah said.
As of March 26, California had 3,555,907 confirmed cases of Covid-19, resulting in 57,336 deaths.
Asked if he had any message for those who still fear the vaccines, Dr Shah said that with millions of people worldwide now inoculated, the evidence is clear — all currently approved vaccines are safe, and the minor side effects are much better than getting Covid.
“Get in line and get your vaccine as soon as you are eligible,” Dr Shah said. “You are not only protecting yourself, buy you’re helping protect your family and your community.”