Covid and Christmas, according to a virologist: get your booster shot if you can, and perform daily lateral flow tests.
I’m feeling better than I was last year, but I’m still not going to my office’s Christmas party.
As the holiday season approaches, I’m concerned about how our joy will shape the pandemic’s next phase.
As a virologist, I’m well aware that the next chapter of the UK’s Covid story hangs in the balance in the coming weeks, with possible outcomes ranging from things being relatively normal to suffering on a scale not seen before in this pandemic.
Case numbers have been consistently high across the UK (around 30,000 to 40,000 per day since July), and as the holiday season approaches, several factors will encourage the virus to spread even further.
We’ll inevitably gather more inside and interact with more people.
This will happen against the backdrop of waning immunity; studies from Israel, which has been at the forefront of the Covid vaccine rollout, have shown that immunity from two vaccine doses drops after five to six months.
The recent emergence of “Delta-plus” – a strain of the Delta variant with increased transmissibility that currently accounts for 16% of UK cases and is likely to become the dominant strain, if not completely outcompete classical Delta – is adding fuel to the fire.
Delta-plus, on the other hand, is linked to less severe disease outcomes than its ancestor, so if it spreads, the clinical consequences may not be as severe as feared.
Booster shots are also being administered with reassuring haste.
Booster doses given to everyone over the age of 12 in Israel were enough to bring an epidemic of delta variant under control with minimal restrictions.
My hope is that the UK will quickly adopt this model, that booster dose uptake will match that of the first two doses, and that this will be enough to keep the more transmissible Delta-plus strain under control.
The next stage of the pandemic is thus a delicate balancing act, with even minor changes in any of the above factors having the potential to cause massive shifts in case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Personally, I’m nervous, but I was terrified this time last year, and vaccinations have completely changed my outlook.
UK news summary from Infosurhoy
A virologist’s guide to Covid and Christmas: if possible, get your booster shot and perform daily lateral flow tests.
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A virologist’s guide to Covid and Christmas: get your booster jab if you can and take daily lateral flow tests