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3 Experts on What Fall and Winter Mean for the Delta Variant’s Spread



When do you anticipate kids getting vaccinated? Why are vaccinated kids a key part of managing the pandemic?

E.M.: Unvaccinated people still spread delta really easily. And that includes kids. I think for a lot of working-age individuals, one of their primary sources of exposure right now is from their unvaccinated kids who are at school with other unvaccinated kids in settings where there’s not a lot of great other precautions happening.

J.M.R.: When we talk about protecting our entire community, kids are part of that. It is very difficult to operate with this population continuing to be unvaccinated. We know that in a number of places, pediatric cases are spiking. And we’ve seen even places like the southeast, Texas to Florida, having a really, really high percentage of kids being hospitalized with COVID-19. Pfizer just released a press release with preliminary data showing really, really positive results in the 5 to 11 age group. It showed extremely high neutralizing antibodies, similar to those who received the adult dose. We still need to see the full data, which will be released upon FDA submission, but the goal right now is to submit that.

Do you think there will be more requirements for vaccines or negative COVID tests in places like restaurants or grocery stores?

E.M.: I think what we might see is the use of vaccine cards and rapid testing combined, especially places like sports stadiums or concert venues where you have a lot of people. And that’s a way to at least get a little bit more reassurance that there are not actively infectious people at those events. I don’t know if we will see them at supermarkets.

J.M.R.: I do. It’s happening in a lot of places already. I think vaccine requirements are one of the essential ways to keep people safe, especially because we can’t really rely on the honor system, unfortunately.


Do you expect more hospitals to go into crisis mode? How should that impact people’s choices about socializing during the fall/winter?

E.M.: Yes. If you look at the numbers, roughly half of people in the U.S. have some protection from the vaccine. But delta is roughly twice as infectious as the previous variants. And so in a lot of ways, we’re in the same situation we were in the beginning of the pandemic—and yet a lot of places have thrown out all the other tools [like masking and distancing]. If we can get everybody vaccinated rapidly, then maybe we don’t need to worry about it. But if we can’t, and obviously we can’t until the under-12s are vaccinated, then we need to think about masking, distancing, and these other strategies.

J.M.R.: Yeah. I mean, we’ve already seen policies enacted in places like Idaho and other states. They’re making horribly difficult triage decisions because they have to decide who’s more likely to survive and which beds and which ventilators to give them. It should remind people that not only are you at risk of being hospitalized and or dying if you’re unvaccinated, but flu could be really bad this year. Not to mention the fact that accidents happen, and you could be in a situation where you might need critical care and there’s just no room to attend to your appendicitis or your broken foot or your allergic reaction.

Do you think boosters for the general population are likely—or wise?

N.C.A.: Boosters have been approved for select individuals, like immunocompromised people and those who are 65 and older, but the FDA rejected a more broad approval. I think it’s important for people to know that the FDA continues to review the data. And I think boosters for the general population are likely to happen. It will be just a matter of when. Once the data show that a booster would be recommended for everyone, I would say it would be advisable to get that booster.

Source: Self


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