Staying the Course to Eliminate Spread of COVID-19

By Collisa Salmon Special to the Outlook (Source: -Folks are lining up to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Fewer people are being hospitalized.

Just as encouraging, health officials are reporting a decline in the number of infections each day. However, none of that should signal that it’s time to celebrate yet.

Even researchers are asking to put the brakes on as they are still trying to find out what’s causing the encouraging declines.

Meanwhile, the safe bet is to stay the course with protocols and not falter because of new strains that continuously develop. Multiple mutations of the COVID-19 virus called variants are of great concern to public health officials. These new strains are constantly multiplying to spread and thrive, while most of the mutations are harmless and not noticeable, there are some that manage to stick to cell walls and get to the center of cells, thus infecting people and making them sick. Even though it has not yet been proven to be more aggressive or deadlier than the original COVID-19, the variants are rapidly mutating and some health officials are reporting that there are certain variants that can evade the immune system.

There are currently several COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials and a few that has passed clinical trials already. Despite the urgency, the FDA will be reviewing results prior to approving vaccines. Usually, the process of approving vaccines takes months up to a few years, but because of the pandemic the FDA is giving emergency authorization for the vaccine relying on less data than what is usually required.

According to the FDA, data must show that the vaccines are safe and effective before authorization. The vaccine provides a broad immune response so that the variant cannot render the vaccine impotent. There are reports that the vaccine can cause mild side effects, one of the reasons that individuals are monitored for 15 minutes after being vaccinated.

Communities can’t rush back to normalcy, trying to find a new normal now. No one afford to let their guard down, so every individual has to adopt the COVID-19 protocols that should be well known by now.

“It is clear that non pharmaceutical interventions like face masks and such are making a huge difference in the decline in cases of COVID-19,” said Martin Mckee, a professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “No single reason can be attributed to the decline, but a combination of factors.

Until herd immunity is attained through vaccination, each individual has a role to play. Being cognizant of the protocols that have been put in place by our public health officials always helps. Just as useful is the recommendation that individuals wash their hands as often as possible as well as wear a face mask when out in public. Avoid touching your face. Practice social distance. Clean and disinfect high-touch areas. Avoiding crowds is highly recommended.

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