COVID-19 New Wave on Digital Display
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Although experts expect that the United States will see an increase in COVID-19 infections and cases throughout the winter, they are optimistic that vaccines, antiviral medications and natural immunity have the power to tamp down increases in mortality and hospitalizations. 

Short of a new variant, “we should be in a good position,” according to Ali Mokdad, PhD, professor of health metric sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and chief strategy officer for population health at the University of Washington. Mokdad shared his projections on the virus’ trajectory into the fall and winter during a LeadingAge membership call on Monday.

“We all need the bivalent booster,” he said of the new COVID-19 booster vaccines available. “It’s not about you and I — it’s about the people we live around. Many people are young and healthy and may survive or have a very mild infection. But we’re coming into the holidays, and the last thing you want to bring to your dinner table is COVID-19.”

Hospitals are “exhausted” and that the healthcare system needs to return to normal, Mokdad said, but that can only happen if people are vaccinated.

“Vaccines do save lives, but vaccination is what saves lives,” he said. 

Another reason to get vaccinated, Mokdad said, is to avoid long COVID. Published research shows that 15% of those who are infected with COVID-19 more than once, or who have severe infection, are more likely to develop long COVID, he added.

“It’s not about getting the virus and surviving — it’s about the quality of life after getting the virus,” he said. “Get the vaccine.”

Mokdad also advocated mask-wearing leading up to holiday and family gatherings that include older adults. He recommended that individuals wear a mask in public two to three weeks before seeing a family member who is older or who has risk factors that would subject that person to severe health problems if exposed to COVID-19.

“Mask-wearing should be dictated by who you are around, not by who you are,” he said.