In Covid DC: What We Need to Know About the Risks of Omicron and BA.2

The answer, like many others during a corovirus pandemic, is difficult because it depends on the personal risk thresholds of individuals. And no public walk contains zero risk – especially a formal event like the Gridiron Dinner held in the hotel basement – with the same contagious options as Omicron and his brother, BA.2, are widespread.

“The tuxedo does not prevent infection,” said William Schaffner, medical director of the National Infectious Diseases Foundation and a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Here’s what you need to know about Covid-19 in the Omicron era and relaxed public health mitigation strategies:

How serious is the new version of Covid?

Omicron BA.2 is the dominant variant of Covid-19 in the U.S. and is spreading in the air just like other coronavirus variants since the pandemic began in late 2019, said Linzie Marma, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. It has been proven to be much more infectious than the original strain.

“There is likely to be more release into the air, or the infection will require less exposure, or it will better avoid the immune system,” Marma told BA.2.

Although this strain is more contagious than its predecessors, it is associated with a less severe disease and comes at a time when the country has plenty of vaccines, medicines and other therapeutic means to combat it.

Vaccines are the gold standard of protection, but they are not bulletproof.

Updates on fully vaccinated and boosted vaccines remain the best way to protect yourself from a severe case of Covid. But after a time when many people were initially immunized and then boosted, plus the evolution of the virus since its last debut in 2019, vaccines have not been able to prevent infection as much as before.

Nevertheless, the vaccines continue to work well, preventing the worst results – ending up in hospital, on a ventilator and dying – which, according to many infectious disease experts, should be the goal of US vaccination efforts.

“This omicron and its son omicron, BA.2, are so contagious that they can still infect you, even though you have been vaccinated and vaccinated,” Schaffner said. For the average person, this means that you will have few or no symptoms at all. You will not get seriously ill. “

Protective layers help reduce risk.

Gridiron’s dinner guests were required to have a vaccination certificate to attend. But the accumulation of positive tests after dinner – including Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raymondo and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) And Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) – Emphasize that vaccination is the only way to overcome the risks of Covid.

Another approach to reduce the risk of being Your party, which will turn into a super-spreading event, requires fast Covid testing on assembly day, Schaffner said. No tests were required to attend Gridiron’s dinner.

Although home tests are not as sensitive as a polymerase chain Reaction, or PCR, tests analyzed in a laboratory, they work well to determine when someone has a high number of viruses that may be most contagious.

“Obviously, this virus also attended the event and spread, and consequently several people got sick,” Schaffner said.

Still, the lack of reports of serious illness among officials infected with Covid “means the vaccines are doing their job,” he said.

Internal measures with food posed risks of infection during a pandemic.

It has been proven that eating, talking out loud and even singing indoors significantly increases the risk of spreading the virus during a pandemic. Attendees at Gridiron’s dinner sat for hours close to each other, eating, drinking, talking to each other – at last even holding the song “Auld Lang Syne”.

This scenario means that infected people were “releasing a lot of viruses into the air,” Marma said. “And given that we’ve seen a lot of cases here, ventilation was probably not enough.”

“It only takes one person,” he said, expelling many viruses to spread Covid.

The particles that people release when talking in the air are similar to coughing, Marma added.

“Imagine all the people standing around and coughing together in a room, and you can more easily imagine that there could be a lot of viruses in the air,” he said.

I was with the infected in less than 15 minutes. Am I in clarity?

The 15 minute guide The CDC uses Covid to establish “close contact” with a patient – “Anyone who has been infected less than 6 feet away from a person … cumulative for a total of 15 minutes or more than 24 hours” is “somewhat arbitrary,” Marma said.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday about her relationship with President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman. Nancy Pelosi This week, before the Democrat in California announced that his positive test had dropped that threshold. However, Psaki said the White House goes beyond CDC protocols when it comes to surrounding the president, which ensures regular testing of people close to him.

Studies in restaurants and hospitals suggest that “in the wrong circumstances” transmission can occur in minutes, Marma said, situations involving close conversation or an infected person releasing a lot of viruses into a poorly ventilated room.

“There is a huge variability in the amount of virus that people spread in the air, so you can stand next to someone for hours and not get infected, or it can happen in just a few minutes,” he said. “Another source of variability is the immune response of vulnerable people.”

What if you are not “average”? Or what if you are but you really do not want to catch Covid?

Anyone over the age of 65 – or anyone of any age who is immunodeficient or has an underlying condition that puts them at risk for severe Covid – should “think” about major internal events, Schaffner said. Several high-ranking government officials – from Biden to Pelosi to Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauch – fall into this category.

The FDA and the CDC recently released a second boost of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for Americans over the age of 50, as well as people with immunodeficiency. Biden received a second boost on March 30th.

Another mitigation strategy is to wear a mask – especially high quality ones like N95 or KN95 – on an event such as an extra layer beyond vaccination to reduce the chances of infection.

Increasing ventilation or air filtration in the event space, keeping doors and windows open or installing portable air purifiers “can make a huge difference,” Marma said, especially if you do not want to reduce the number of guests or impose a mask.

A combination of approaches – say vaccination and testing requirements with optional masks, or mandatory masks and vaccination without showing negative test evidence – can be used to reduce the risk, but not to eliminate it, Schaffner said.

“People who are either in the Washington government or elected representatives have a lot to do with interpersonal relationships,” Schaffner said. “And so I think people in this situation really need to think about it and, of course, I would say at least be fully vaccinated.”

In Covid DC: What We Need to Know About the Risks of Omicron and BA.2

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