Manage episode 285212326 series 1325257
Chris Murray kindly returned to the podcast for another round. We know now that variants increase transmissibility “by quite a bit,” and have the potential to increase the fatality rate and escape vaccines, lowering efficacy rates. The Novavax trial, ominously, showed that one variant can reinfect individuals previously infected. It’s a new, uncertain world in which SAR-COV-2 is not overcome and eliminated, but rather becomes endemic, a “seasonal flu only ten times worse.” We know that accelerating vaccination campaigns, with excellent vaccines, combined with seasonality (end of winter, arrival of summer) can drive the pandemic down. But a lot of virus remains in the community, variants will take off in America in another month or so, and relaxation of controls too early will trigger spikes in the spring and lay the groundwork for another bad winter at year’s end. Politicians, scientists, policy advisors are just beginning to get their heads around what this means, short and long-term, and what to communicate to a public which has just heaved “a giant collective sigh of relief” in hope that the pandemic is finally over.
Chris Murray is the Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he is also Chair and Professor in the UW Health Metrics Sciences Department.