Tuesday, September 27, 2022
HomeHealthMaking sense of COVID-19's danger now : NPR

Making sense of COVID-19’s danger now : NPR

It is a unusual second within the pandemic. For many vaccinated individuals, the chance of extreme sickness has gone means down. However tons of are dying of COVID-19 daily. So how harmful is the virus now?


It is a unusual second within the pandemic. Masks mandates and different restrictions have all however disappeared. Vaccines and boosters imply a lot of individuals are protected in opposition to extreme sickness, and but tons of of individuals are nonetheless dying from COVID-19 daily. So we’re left to determine for ourselves how dangerous that night time out on the films is or that journey overseas.

CARLA SCUZZARELLA: You realize, it is form of on the again burner for lots of – it was on the again burner for us.

SUMMERS: Carla and Frank Scuzzarella of Saugus, Mass., had delay their European trip since 2020, however this summer time they have been each double-boosted. It felt protected, so that they went – Spain, Portugal, Morocco, London.

SCUZZARELLA: And we had a beautiful, great three weeks. I am grateful for that point. And I’ve a lot of nice reminiscences and good photos from that. However, you understand, we’re dwelling for 4 days, and he is within the emergency room.

SUMMERS: Frank went to the hospital on August 6, and he shortly acquired worse.

SCUZZARELLA: Sort of unbelievable how shortly it established itself in him. And, you understand, inside every week he had small blood clots in each lungs from the COVID. You realize, it was horrible.

SUMMERS: Frank was on a day by day steroid to handle his rheumatoid arthritis, and that put him at increased danger for a extreme case. And he died simply final week on Labor Day. He was 64 years previous. Now Carla is adjusting to life with out the person who coached their son’s hockey and Little League groups, who was on the brink of welcome their second grandchild, the person who she’d been with since they have been 17 years previous.

SCUZZARELLA: I have been considering rather a lot about what we nonetheless needed to do, and now I acquired to determine, you understand, learn how to be on my own with out him. It has been a very long time.

SUMMERS: Carla says she desires individuals to know that COVID isn’t a joke. For the individuals who cannot battle it off, it isn’t only a chilly. However she additionally understands that individuals need to dwell their lives.

SCUZZARELLA: You’ll be able to’t say it is gone. And I do know everyone – you understand, we do not have to essentially put on masks. We do not have to remain six toes aside. You must dwell your life. And that is the way in which we checked out it once we deliberate to go on our journey this summer time – that we felt protected and we’ve got to dwell our lives nonetheless. However you simply – you may’t completely let your guard down but.

SUMMERS: Even amongst scientists, there’s debate about how dangerous COVID is correct now and what precautions most individuals ought to be taking. And the way in which this query is commonly framed is as a comparability. At this level, is COVID kind of harmful than the seasonal flu? The flu, in spite of everything, is a illness we’re acquainted with and a danger that almost all of us are snug coping with every fall and winter. NPR well being correspondent Rob Stein has been digging into this debate. Hey, Rob.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Hello, Juana.

SUMMERS: All proper. So we’ve got spent years now dwelling in worry of COVID as a result of it was seen as a lot extra harmful than the flu. So how may COVID have develop into no extra menacing than the flu?

STEIN: That is the large debate proper now. Many consultants say it is means too quickly to declare COVID a menace on par with the flu. However some infectious illness consultants are able to go that far, like Dr. Monica Gandhi on the College of California San Francisco.

MONICA GANDHI: We’ve got all been questioning, when does COVID seem like influenza by way of deaths? And, sure, we’re there. We’re basically at a low case fatality charge the place COVID has reached influenza. So dwell your life in a means that you simply used to dwell with endemic seasonal flu.

STEIN: Gandhi says that is as a result of individuals have constructed up robust immunity from getting vaccinated or contaminated or each and since omicron does not seem to have made individuals as sick as earlier variations of the virus. So she says until some nastier variant abruptly emerges, COVID’s menace has diminished significantly.

SUMMERS: OK. However that could be a controversial perspective, proper?

STEIN: Yeah, completely, completely. Others argue that we could hopefully be heading in that route, however we’re not there but – not even shut. I talked about this with White Home adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.

ANTHONY FAUCI: I am sorry. I simply disagree. COVID is a way more severe public well being situation than is influenza. The severity of 1 in comparison with the opposite is actually fairly stark. And the potential to kill of 1 versus the opposite is actually fairly stark. By no means, ever, ever would flu kill 1,031,000 individuals in two and a half years.

STEIN: Making COVID the third main reason behind demise within the U.S. And Dr. Fauci factors out that COVID continues to be killing tons of of individuals daily, which translated into greater than 125,000 deaths a 12 months. A really dangerous flu season kills, you understand, possibly 50,000 individuals.

SUMMERS: OK. That may be a fairly giant distinction, Rob. So what do individuals who say that the COVID danger has waned say about that?

STEIN: You realize, they agree that omicron is so contagious that it is nonetheless making a lot of individuals sick, some actually sick. So, you understand, a lot of individuals are nonetheless getting critically unwell and even dying. Nevertheless it’s develop into uncommon for many younger, in any other case wholesome individuals to get so sick they find yourself in a hospital or die, particularly in the event that they’re vaccinated and boosted. And Dr. Shira Doron at Tufts College argues that many hospitalizations being blamed on COVID are actually individuals hospitalized with COVID, not due to COVID.

SHIRA DORON: We are actually seeing persistently greater than 70% of our COVID hospitalizations are in that class. For those who’re counting all of them as hospitalizations after which these individuals die and also you depend all of them as COVID deaths, you’re fairly dramatically over-counting.

STEIN: Which she says means the day by day demise depend might be actually a lot nearer to what occurs throughout a typical flu season. And plenty of consultants say so many non-fatal infections aren’t being reported due to dwelling testing. It is masking that the chance of dying from COVID has most likely dropped to about the identical because the flu.

SUMMERS: And, Rob, what will we find out about who continues to be dying from COVID?

STEIN: Yeah. Most of these ending up within the hospital or dying are those that are older, particularly the age 75 and older, who produce other well being issues, particularly those that aren’t vaccinated or boosted. I talked about this with Heather Scobie on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

HEATHER SCOBIE: Individuals which are 65 to 74 years have 60 instances the chance of dying than individuals which are 18 to 29. And folks which are 85 years and older have 330 instances the chance in comparison with individuals which are 18 to 29.

STEIN: So it is super-important that they get vaccinated and boosted and get handled shortly in the event that they do get sick.

SUMMERS: And, Rob, we have been speaking rather a lot about deaths from COVID, however one thing that I do know lots of people are involved about is lengthy COVID.

STEIN: Proper, completely. You realize, Dr. Fauci and others say that is one other means COVID stays a far larger danger than the flu. Whereas individuals can find yourself with lingering well being issues from the flu and different viral infections, the chance from COVID is estimated to be a lot larger. However, you understand, some medical doctors say the estimated danger for lengthy COVID comes from individuals who acquired critically unwell early on within the pandemic. And for those who depend for that, the chance of long-term well being issues will not be a lot larger from COVID than from different viral infections. However, you understand, that, too, stays a topic of nice debate.

SUMMERS: That is NPR well being correspondent Rob Stein. Thanks a lot.

STEIN: You are welcome – good to be right here.


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