NEED TO GET VACCINATED | COVID-19 was the third cause of death in the US in 2022. (Photo/EFE)
EXPERTS REITERATE THE NEED FOR VACCINATION
Newsroom El Comercio de Colorado
The COVID epidemic persists. “Anyone who tells you that COVID is over is not looking at the facts,” maintains Ben Neuman, director of virology at Texa A&M University’s Global Health Research Complex. Neuman, speaking at an Ethnic Media Services briefing, revealed that “COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the US in 2022, behind heart disease and cancer. That was the same in both 2020 and 2021.”
According to Neuman, one in thirteen deaths in this country in 2022 was attributed, at least in part, to COVID-19. Meanwhile, Oliver Brooks, chief medical officer, Watts Healthcare, asserted that COVID-19 reduced life expectancy by one year for white Americans; life expectancy for African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the US fell by two years. “Do we need another million Americans to die before we get the point?” Brooks said.
The XBB.1.5 variant
Another evidence of the persistence of COVID-19 is the spread of a new subvariant of omicron. This subvariant that was identified as XBB.1.5 already accounts for 40 percent of covid-19 infections in the US. The XBB.1.5 variant is even more prevalent on the East Coast and accounts for 75 percent of infections in that part of the country. Neuman indicates that “XBB.1.5 seems to be breaking the resistance as expected it is very infectious”
Neuman explains the danger of the new variant. “The original omicron variant was particularly resistant to antibodies because it contained 7 changes in a small part of the receptor-binding spike. XBB.1.5 now has many more changes in that region, five more than the current omicron variant that binds to the receptor.” It is based on the BA.5 subvariant,” says this expert. According to Neuman, the characteristics of this variant should motivate a new update of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccines and home tests
Brooks reiterates that current vaccines offer protection. “The first thing we can do is get vaccinated. Vaccines are safe and effective. Even if you only have a 10 percent response rate, you still need to get vaccinated. There is no problem. COVID-19 is not waiting for us to let our guard down. We cannot be complacent,” Brooks maintains. This doctor also insists that the tests are crucial.
“Testing is also crucial. I am pleased to hear mothers say that they have tested their children, even before a doctor tells them to. Detecting the infection early on is critical to improving treatment.” Jill Rosenthal, director of Public Health Policy at the Center for American Progress, is concerned that Congress’s refusal to allocate funds to combat the pandemic could have a negative impact on minority groups.