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Info: COVID-19 after two years

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

As of 3/22/22, 971,422 U.S. citizens had died of COVID-19 Worldwide, more than 5,000,000 people had died of COVID-19 by the end of 2021 (4).

Nearly all the COVID-19 deaths that have occurred since early 2021 could have been prevented by vaccination along with masking and distancing. We "cannot escape the realization that misinformation and misgovernance during the pandemic killed people as surely as global war" (3). As with previous variants, most Omicron deaths have occurred in unvaccinated individuals (6)

Fortunately, 254,925,941 persons in the U.S. over age 5 (81.6%) have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Some of these individuals have gotten breakthrough infections but very few have gotten sick enough to be hospitalized or die. Vaccines are thought to have already saved more than 700,000 lives (2). Unfortunately, half of the planet is still unvaccinated, with extreme disparities among nations (2).

As with vaccines, masks alone cannot eliminate COVID-19 but they can still save many lives at low cost by helping to delay infections until more people can get vaccinated and by reducing viral load at transmission (1,6).

Closed, crowded spaces where people are loudly vocalizing are ideal for spreading SARS-CoV-2. Thus, distancing remains important because this influences viral load. Viral load independently influences transmissibility, and severity of disease if infection occurs (6). Further determinants of disease severity include age, male sex, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and chronic kidney diseases (7).

The course of the pandemic continues to respond to evolutionary changes in the virus, changes in population immunity, changes in individual host immunity, and human behavior (6). SARS-CoV-2 is expected to become endemic in the human population (1,6) and new coronaviruses could spill over from wild animals at any time (5). Work is under way to develop broad-spectrum coronavirus vaccines.

REFERENCES

  1. Abaluck J, Jakubowski A, Hossain MM, Nekesa C, Miguel E. Promoting mask wearing to reduce COVID-19 infections. Science 11 March 2022;375:1110.

  2. Altmann DM, Boyton RJ. COVID-19 vaccination: The road ahead. Science 11 March 2022;375:1127-32.

  3. Ash C, Alderton G, Kelly P, Scanlon ST, Vinson V, Wible. A time to reflect: Lessons from 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Science 11 March 2022;375:1101.

  4. Edwards AM, Baric RS, Saphire EO, Ulmer JB. Stopping pandemics before they start: Lessons learned from SARS-CoV-2. Science 11 March 2022;375:1133-9.

  5. Holmes EC. COVID-19--lessons from zoonotic disease. Science 11 March 2022;375:1114-5.

  6. Koelle K, Martin MA, Antia R, Lopman B, Dean NE. The changing epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2. Science 11 March 2022;375:1116-21.

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