Experts say these changes could help the US live with COVID: NPR

Experts say these changes could help the US live with COVID: NPR


The US omicron wave is likely to last through late January and then recede rapidly. Former President Biden advisors say a new strategy is needed to help the US live with COVID.



MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We are in the middle of a viral blizzard. So how do we get out and go back to something that is approaching a new normal? A year after the new Biden administration announced its strategy to leave the pandemic behind, several of its former COVID advisors released some new findings and recommendations. You’re in the medical journal JAMA. And MediaFrolic’s Allison Aubrey is here with some highlights.

Hello Allison.

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: A year ago it was President-elect Biden who put advanced testing at the top of his list. And I have to say, here we are and it’s still very difficult to get a test. What gives?

AUBREY: Yes. Well, you know, there was progress early on. Test pages expanded. The FDA has approved faster testing. But then, when cases decreased last spring, the focus on testing disappeared. A rapid test manufacturer, Abbott, has shut down one of its facilities. President Biden began talking about July 4th as a target date to celebrate our independence from the virus. Everything seemed fine. Then bam – Delta, now Omicron. This is Ezekiel Emanuel from the University of Pennsylvania. He was Biden’s advisor on COVID and is the author of the new paper.

EZEKIEL EMANUEL: I think testing is clearly a case that we have built an infrastructure. It was pretty effective, but that got dismantled. You know, that doesn’t make any sense. And as a consequence, we are now behind the eight ball. We need a clear vision. What role do PCR tests play? What is the role of testing at home?

AUBREY: It is too late to fix all of this in the midst of this surge. But going in the future, he says, the U.S. could introduce a standard testing program used across healthcare to identify COVID, flu, and other respiratory viruses with a single test.

KELLY: That’s interesting. Does such a test already exist, a single test that would cover everything?

AUBREY: Yes. Yes. These combined tests were developed, but they are not used – not in a systematic way. And more importantly, Dr. Emanuel says test results are not linked to treatments. I mean think about it. Now, if you test positive with a rapid antigen test at home, will you tell your doctor? I mean, what treatments should you be receiving? Two new antiviral drugs are approved, but you must take them for the first few days of infection for them to help.

EMANUEL: We know there is a very short time frame in which you can get either the oral antiviral or the monoclonal drugs. We don’t have a good, close association in assuring someone who tests positive that they will be considered for treatment.

AUBREY: You know, there is a shortage of drugs at the moment. They are new. And the federal government has paid for the supplies, so a coordinated system is needed to use them efficiently.

KELLY: And then we talk about vaccines, which everyone says are key to really getting out of the pandemic. Yet so many people remain unvaccinated. Any ideas from these former consultants on how to change all of this?

AUBREY: You know, I spoke to Michael Osterholm at the University of Minnesota. He is another author of these new papers. He says we need near-universal vaccination. This can mean that children are compulsory in schools, just as measles vaccinations are compulsory. It can also mean Mary Louise, a different type of vaccine.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM: These vaccines that we have are remarkable, but they’re not perfect. And if we could develop a pan-coronavirus vaccine that could cover multiple changes in the coronavirus so that every time a new variant showed up we wouldn’t sit here wondering if that would be the case – shall we go? to be protected or not?

AUBREY: That would make us more resilient, he argues, when people are ready. There is already research on this. He says the bottom line is that reaching a new normal means that acceptance of COVID will not go away, but will be much more manageable with more comprehensive strategies for detection and treatment.

KELLY: Manageable – I’d take it.

Allison Aubrey of MediaFrolic, thank you very much.

AUBREY: Thank you, Mary Louise.

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MediaFrolic transcripts are created on a deadline basis by Verb8tm, Inc., an MediaFrolic contractor, using a proprietary transcription process developed with MediaFrolic. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of MediaFrolic programming is the audio recording.



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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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