For the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been hoping for light at the end of the tunnel. And while we’ve made incredible progress, there have been serious setbacks. The pandemic has been marked by ups and downs: After the introduction of the Omicron variant led to a surge over the winter, COVID numbers declined rapidly, but now there are some signs of the trend reversing. As of March 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that daily new COVID cases were down just 3 percent, and cases are rising in certain states. With the understanding that we are not yet out of the woods, experts continue to investigate how we can best protect ourselves from the virus.
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Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you still need to be on alert—and that means getting the most protection possible. If you received a two-dose mRNA vaccine or one dose from Johnson & Johnson, you still need to get your booster shot, White House COVID advisor Anthony Fauci, MD, said during an April 1 Yahoo Finance Live broadcast. Experts believe getting a third shot is critical when dealing with Omicron and obtaining “optimal protection.” For those who are unvaccinated, Fauci continues to advise getting started on a shot regimen as soon as possible.
“Due to the fact that the infections are coming down somewhat, there’s been a relaxation of many of the restrictions, not only here in the United States, but throughout the world,” Fauci told Yahoo Finance. According to the infectious disease expert, the BA.2 variant, a “sublineage of the Omicron [variant],” is the reason behind the increase in cases, as it transmits more readily than its predecessor Omicron.
Fauci noted that while some European countries are seeing an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, others are seeing a significant uptick only in cases, namely the U.K. Data from that country seems to show that the spike in cases is not associated with an increase in hospitalizations or nationwide mortality, Fauci said.
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Over the course of the next few weeks, there will be a better understanding as to whether the lifting of restrictions, such as indoor masking, will have an effect on numbers. Experts will be able to discern a course of action depending on if levels increase significantly, or if levels only increase slightly and then “linger” at that rate, without increasing hospitalizations and deaths.
“So where we are right now is in almost a transition period where it continues to come down,” Fauci told Yahoo Finance. “It’s really a work in motion, a work in progress that we’re going to have to see what happens.”
The surge could also have an impact on the call to end the mask mandate aboard airplanes, Fauci added. The airline mask mandate is still being enforced and was recently extended from March 18 to April 18, when it will undergo another review.
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