COVID-19: What to be aware of in 2021

By Akshat Jain, MD MPH

It has been over a year since the reality of human existence around the world was changed en masse. The viral pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, everywhere!

COVID 19 has challenged scientists and health care professionals in unique ways, which no health system or scientific laboratory on this planet was ever prepared to handle. Out of the box thinking has gotten us some hopefuls in treatment medications and the saving grace in the form of vaccines.

But for every right piece of scientific information out, there are two misinforming the public and at times crossing rising to frank absurdity.

So, in the year 2021 here are some relevant facts that are still worthy for one to be cognizant of:

1.     Vaccine efficacy: While various vaccines have been approved in the United States and the rest of the world, many have had different roll outs based on availability. Every vaccine is unique in the way it works and thus efficacies for the best studied vaccines ranging from 90-95% are commonplace.  

2.     New strains – With the new UK and South Africa strains, it is true and a reason for concern that unvaccinated people are at the highest risk of COVID 19 infection than before. The new variations in the virus make it very potent and strong and thus spread faster even with minimal exposure.

3.     Mask wearing – Mask wearing is more important than ever, even for people who have received vaccines, to stop community spread. For the next foreseeable future, this is one tool that is going to be making the most difference in how fast the virus spreads in communities that are densely populated and at the time of super-spreader events.

4.     International travel – It is still recommended to avoid busy commute points especially airports and transit stations that are needed to be accessed for international journeys. While airplanes have air-filtration systems that avoid cross transmission to some degree, the worry is always the spread of the virus in crowded airport terminals.

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