There is no such thing as 'herd immunity.' Why the ongoing dangers of COVID-19 are real

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We all need to recognize the dangers of COVID-19 and the risks it poses to our long-term health and our nation's workforce. Long COVID occurs in about 30% to 35% of cases. It often occurs even in mild illnesses and reinfections. Severity is cumulative with each exposure, and symptoms can often last for over a year (the longest patients have been observed). There is no such thing as "herd immunity," and I would like to differ from the CDC regarding the "immune debt" that is causing the rise in respiratory infections and their statement on respiratory syncytial virus infections: "And so these children, to get [RSV] if you will to get ahead, because it's a very common disease in children."
'Immune debt' is just another push for 'herd immunity' and using that to explain the increase in RSV infections is intriguing as we had a significant number of infections last year. At the end of Nov. 2022, children's hospitals were full of RSV, but at that time there were correspondingly more RSV infections in the previous year. We're on track to have an even longer RSV season, but 'immune debt' is an unlikely etiology.
Another explanation for the rising RSV hospitalizations is "immune theft" due to COVID-19, which by last March had infected over 75% of children. Increasing research has shown that COVID-19 is associated with immune dysfunction that can last for at least 8 months (the longest time studied).
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Poor ventilation
Why not make indoors just as safe as outdoors? Unfortunately, increasing ventilation alone is unlikely to stop the spread of COVID-19. But poorly ventilated areas are by far the least safe places. Consumers can use a portable CO2 monitor to at least ensure that minimum non-pandemic standards are met. We have the technology to greatly improve the interior settings. It's decades old and has an excellent safety record. It is called upper space germicidal UV-C lighting.
We also need to use well-fitting N95 masks whenever possible, especially when encountering others on short exposures during store pickup. The public dislike of masking is both social and based on bogus science. The virus particles floating in the air are droplets, not a single dry virion. They are much larger than a micron. But most importantly, an N95 mask is not a screen. N95 masks work more like flypapers, trapping viruses because they stick to the fibers rather than being blocked by them. N95 masks are extremely good at trapping very small particles.
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A fair and clear message needs to be given to retailers regarding indoor safety standards and N95 masking. In contrast, the CDC airs a commercial that appears to encourage maskless gathering in crowded indoor locations (elevator, public transit, etc.) for those who have been boosted. This message ignores the suboptimal rates of effectiveness of boosters in preventing symptomatic disease, spread and even Long COVID.
Hannah Finch taking nose samples at the COVID testing facility at Churchill Downs on Friday 14th January 2022
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vaccinations
Vaccinations and boosters offer another layer of protection, but they only offer 34% to 38% protection against Long COVID, according to a large NIH study. They also eliminate non-symptomatic infections and spread. These are all too common consequences. However, vaccinations offer good protection against hospitalization and death. What is needed is a mucosal vaccine that produces large amounts of IgA antibodies in the nose, which should stop the spread of the disease. Promising vaccines are being studied. The lack of an Operation Warp Speed ​​initiative for these mucosal vaccines is one of the biggest failings of our pandemic efforts.
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Whenever possible, consumers should use online shopping, curbside pickup and, as a last resort, in-store pickup. Retail businesses must offer these options and ensure their staff wear N95 masks. Rapid tests are also important. We should all test immediately before indoor gatherings and family events. A recent Yale study found that this strategy could reduce spread by 40%.
Therefore, testing, masking, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, and updating immunizations and booster shots are the best strategies we have to stay safe during times of high virus spread. These strategies will also work for seasonal influenza and, with the exception that no RSV vaccine exists, will also help protect against RSV, which fills our children's hospitals. Above all, we need clear and comprehensive health messages. We must be willing to make some compromises in our way of life, for the safety of others and for ourselves.
Kevin Kavanagh is a retired physician from Somerset, Kentucky and Chairman of Health Watch USA.
Kevin Kavanagh is a retired physician from Somerset, Kentucky and Chairman of Health Watch USA.
This article originally appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal: COVID is a Persistent Threat. Why there is no herd immunity

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