by Gary M. Trager, MD, FACP
As you all are aware, the pandemic is fading and becoming endemic. This means a recurring, lower level of disease persists. Endemic illness can accelerate into pandemic illness; in other words, our recent progress against the virus can regress. There are several agencies that will be monitoring this for us since no one has any knowledge about this virus other than for the past 2.5 years.
We have learned that cloth and surgical masks do to little to prevent the transmission of certain COVID 19 strains. Only N95 and KN95 masks work well to protect us from COVID. The CDC (via their web site) will provide these masks without charge. The CDC also has a new on-line tool to help one determine what to do if ill with or exposed to COVID. This tool is much, much easier to use than previous ones.
The BA.2 strain (a variant of Omicron) is becoming more common but hospitalizations in the U.S. and locally have not spiked. This may be due to the many people who are vaccinated and boosted as well as the many who had COVID (the disease) in the past 6 months. This is the concept of "herd immunity."
Pfizer's vaccine for children was 10% of an adult's dose and did not provide much immunity while Moderna used 33% of the adult dose for the children and achieved better results with equal safety. Experts are still debating whether and if children under 11 years who are not immune-compromised need a vaccine.
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