Dr. Ashish Jha said this week that if current COVID-19 trends continue, many parts of the country could soon be in a position where communities can ease public health restrictions. But the doctor also urged that work still needs to be done to prevent the ongoing pandemic.
In Washington Post personal opinion and on TwitterThe dean of the Brown University School of Public Health outlines the next steps for the pandemic as the omicron surge shows signs of ending nationwide.
Although Jha said that anything is possible with COVID-19, he wrote that the United States has passed the peak of the Omicron boom, and, if the trend follows, what happened? South Africa And Britain, the infection rate can return to a much more manageable rate within a month. He said the easing of mask mandates and indoor gathering restrictions could lead to falling cases and increasing hospital capacity.
By mid-February, Jha predicts that the number of cases across the country should be relatively low, partly due to the high levels of population immunity to many of the infections seen during the oomicron surge and the promotion of more people.
Jha said on Twitter that a significant drop in the number of cases and a meaningful increase in hospital capacity should lead to the easing of public health restrictions, including mask mandates and indoor capacity limits.
“During a future boom, we may need to ask people to step back or wear masks again,” Jha wrote, “It’s important to maintain people’s willingness to do things.”
Beyond the relaxation measures as the surge ends, Jha emphasized that the relief that may come once the worst of the omicron has passed should be used to prepare for a future surge.
“The bottom line is that as omicron growth subsides, we will enter a period of uncertainty, with low levels of transition but difficult-to-predict growth, either from existing variants or new future variants,” Jha wrote in Post, “As such, we should use the coming months to prepare.”
Emphasizing the continued importance of vaccines, Jha said, “Efforts to reach the United Nations and less immunization must continue.”
he called operation warp speed Continuous development of 2.0 and new vaccines, with an emphasis on very early dosing so that the country can better respond to future needs.
In the same vein, Jha said the nation cannot be caught again unprepared when it comes to testing.
“When there was an urgent need for more testing during the most recent surge, capacity had to be increased almost from scratch,” Jha wrote in Post, “We can’t make that mistake again. We must make sure we have a large national stockpile of in-home rapid tests, and we must continue to increase production of raw materials, including reagents.”
The time between surges should also be used to build up a robust supply of therapeutic doses, Jha wrote. Treatments such as monoclonal antibodies, intravenous antivirals and therapeutics from Pfizer and Merck can substantially reduce the severity of the infection, Jha said, adding that they should be “a cornerstone of the management of the infection”.
“Their ability to substantially blunt the next wave justifies significant investment in effective protocols and reserves, including making treatment free for those who test positive,” Jha wrote. Post,
The virus isn’t going away completely anytime soon, but Jha said it “doesn’t need to dominate our lives.”
“We need to clearly communicate that moment, what people should do during periods of low transition and the temporary measures we may need during future surges,” Jha wrote. Post, “Our leaders should do a better job of telling us where we are, what’s to come and how to prepare.”
Jha said he suspects there will be surges and more variations in the future, but it is difficult to predict the future trends of the virus.
“Obviously, I hope there will be no boom in the future,” He tweeted. “Or the bounce won’t matter (because of our high pop immunity). But hope is not a strategy.”
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