Yes, the coronavirus pandemic is getting tiresome for us all, and hope is on the horizon, with vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 approved last week, and certain new therapeutics helping to prevent hospitalizations and death. Yet it’s not going away anytime soon. Cases are plateauing at 70,000 a day. More than 1,000 Americans die daily. Concerned, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on NPR this morning to address Americans. Read on for five life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
“Certainly things are going in the right direction with the diminution of cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Fauci. “The deepness of the deflection is not as good as it was, let’s say a month or so ago because we were getting, you know, 10, 15, 20% decrease from week to week for the prior week, it’s down to a lower number.” We’re all going indoors due to colder weather. “When you go back inside, sometimes that makes things worse because when you’re dealing with respiratory illnesses, when you’re in a closed place, specifically, those that don’t have good ventilation. So, you know, there’s a mixed bag about that. But the one thing that we’ve learned now from close to 20 months of experience, don’t take the virus lightly, we’re going in the right direction.” The good news: “Number one, we now have 28 million children from five to 11, who now are eligible to be vaccinated. We have adolescents who we’ve already started some months ago to vaccinate them, but we need to do better with them. And then we have about 60 plus million people in the country who are eligible for vaccinations who have not yet been vaccinated. So as we go into the winter months with the challenge of a respiratory infection being worse in the winter months.”
Not to mention, cases in Europe are surging. “It’s those European countries, which are mostly Eastern European countries who have less than 60% of their population with the one, at least one dose. Those are the ones that are surging back up. So that just tells us again, why we should continue to get people vaccinated.”
Get vaccinated, says Fauci, and “we can get through this.”
“We’re looking for a level of control,” said Dr. Fauci. “Ultimately, I can’t tell you exactly what that would be, where the level of infection due to vaccination predominantly, but also people who may have been infected and have some degree of protection that doesn’t disrupt society. The way the COVID-19 outbreak is currently doing with, we all want to get back to normal, but you know, what do you mean by normal? I mean, how normal exactly the way it was before the outbreak, but at least a low. Every day, the year I would take that. Absolutely.” So how to tell we’ve licked it? “You want to get deaths and hospitalization as low as you possibly can. You get there by getting the cases lower, but you get there by getting the cases lower and diminishing hospitalization and death by vaccination because we know vaccination, even when it doesn’t always prevent infection, it goes a long way to preventing the progression to severe disease. So we want to do all of the above.”
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About a new COVID medication, “Pfizer says it seems to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 89%, which sounds pretty good. What should we know about it? How promising is it?” asked the NPR host. “There’s really quite promising,” answered Fauci. “We went over the data the night before they made the announcement and they did it with some of the colleagues, myself and other people at the NIH and CDC and FDA and others who were interested, obviously in this, I believe to be an important advance. It’s important for the following reason. It is a pill that if given early within five days, but preferably within three days of the onset of symptoms and the end point of the study is whether or not it diminished hospitalization or death serious. And it is what it has been given to people who have one or more of underlying risks that would make them more likely to have an advanced progression of disease. Mainly people with diabetes, hypertension, or smokers, and the results were really quite striking so much so that the data and safety monitoring board, which monitors both the safety as well as if a product is good enough with regard to benefit that you would have to ethically stop the study so that not to prevent those who were in the placebo group from getting the benefit of those who are in the treatment group. And what it did is that it diminished by 89%, the likelihood that you would have hospitalization in the placebo versus the drug group and by about 85%, if you started within five days.”
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The COVID pill is “absolutely not” a replacement for the vaccine. “People, don’t take that approach, because it is always, always better not to get infected then to get infected and then have a situation where you can either progress to severe disease, which this pill thankfully, is able to inhibit the likelihood of that progression. But also, you know, getting infected, you get mild to moderate illness that never requires you’re going to the hospital and being hospitalized and needing organ system support in the hospital. It’s, it’s not, uh, something to be taken lightly. Yes, there are many people who can get infected and be either without symptoms or minimally symptomatic, but the best way, traditionally not only with COVID-19, but with any infection is, is always, always better to prevent it than, to have to worry about treating them.”
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Some parents are concerned about giving the vaccine to their young kids. “We have to always respect when parents have questions, reasonable questions about this, and what you do is you take them to the data,” said Dr. Fauci. “This is a study that very clearly showed a high degree of efficacy. If you look at the clinical trial, the degree of efficacy is substantial. It’s about 91% or so that is really very good for a vaccine. Number two, there are about 1.9 million reported cases of children between the ages of five and 11, and about 8,300 hospitalizations. And over 2,000 of that multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, which can really be quite severe and about a hundred deaths thus far within that age group of five to 11. So I would tell the parents, although it is less likely for a child to get a serious result from infection than an adult, particularly an elderly adult, it is not something that’s trivial. So that’s the first thing. The other thing is that the vaccine, the safety profile in the clinical trial and error, the reason was really quite good. So it had really good efficacy and really good safety profile.” So get vaccinated, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.