Covid-19: It’s Still a Threat

Is Covid Still Around?

Many people are wondering if Covid is still around. It is, but the outbreak has calmed down.

Vaccination continues to be the most effective way to prevent infection and death from this virus. Studies show that vaccines reduce the risk of disease by at least 75%.

Boosters are now being offered free to those over 65 and those who are clinically vulnerable. More information is available here.

It’s still a pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic may not be as severe as it was at its height, people should still take it seriously. The virus can cause serious illness and death, especially in seniors and those with weakened immune systems. People should get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

The charts above show weekly averages of new cases and deaths per 100,000 people across the country. The number of cases could be significantly higher because many who test positive with home tests don’t report them. The data are based on state health agency reports and were last updated on Feb. 1.

In the UK, boosters are now available in pharmacies for those over 65 and clinically vulnerable adults. The vaccine is also offered on the NHS to those over 50, and a private version of the vaccine in pre-filled syringes is expected next year. This could allow people who aren’t in those groups to go to festivals and other large events that they might not be able to attend this autumn.

It’s still a seasonal illness

After a yearlong pandemic, Covid-19 is finally settling into what epidemiologists call “seasonality.” That doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods, but it does suggest that the virus is less of a threat.

For one thing, most of the outbreak’s deaths have been from flu, not Covid. And there’s a good chance that will continue to be true in 2023.

But a big reason for the lull is that the vaccines people received have helped provide some degree of immunity. And the new booster vaccine expected this fall will contain XBB.1.5, a subvariant known as Kraken that grew faster than other strains last winter. By next winter, Kraken will likely be gone from circulation altogether. That’s another key reason why CDC recommends everyone get a vaccine shot. It takes about six months for antibodies to wear off, leaving people vulnerable to infection again. The new booster will help keep the virus at bay longer.

It’s still a public health emergency

When an international public health emergency is declared by WHO, it carries weight and allows for countries to marshal resources and waive rules to ease the crisis. The virus is still a threat, though the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths has dropped since peaking in early 2020.

Although Covid has waned, it still poses a real threat, especially to those who don’t get the vaccine or have weak immune systems, such as seniors or immunocompromised individuals. The virus may also cause a long illness that can lead to complications and even death.

New York City will continue to track Covid-19 vaccinations, variants and cases, but with less frequency than during the pandemic. While for-profit testing tents that charge a fee or bill your insurance may no longer dot city sidewalks, free home tests and at-home lab services will remain available through the city health department. The city will also continue to monitor other sources of information, such as hospitalization data and wastewater testing, and to follow national trends.

It’s still a threat

When the WHO declared that Covid-19 was no longer a pandemic, it didn’t mean that people were no longer at risk of getting sick from it. Immunity, vaccines and other tools like lockdowns helped tame the virus but long-term impacts still remain.

Even though case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths are much lower compared to during the height of the pandemic, it’s important for everyone to take the virus seriously. It still poses a threat to those who aren’t vaccinated or have weak immune systems, such as seniors and immunocompromised individuals.

New York City’s official coronavirus data tracker will continue to refresh weekly, but it’s important to remember that information about the virus can change rapidly and that the best way to protect yourself is by staying up-to-date with your vaccinations and wearing a mask when necessary. You can also learn more about what to expect after the pandemic by reading this article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and this one from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

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