How Americans (mis)handled another inconvenient truth

To heal we must remember. I know it’s hard, I promise you I know it’s hard. I remember. That’s how you heal, you have to remember. And also, it’s important to do that as a nation. 

Joe Biden

As a nation which prides itself on being the best in the world. A nation with 510,000 Covid-19 deaths. A nation whose citizens consistently refuse to remember.

This is America, land of the free and home of the most Covid-19 cases and deaths on the planet

Less than one year ago, America watched as countries like China, Italy, and Iran seemed to be taken over by a virus (SARS-Cov-2) foreign not only to us, but to the world. Then, on March 9, passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship –– which had 21 confirmed Covid cases –– started disembarking in Oakland, CA, giving Americans a glimpse into the havoc and fear spreading alongside Covid across the globe. The next day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a “containment area” in New Rochelle to stop the novel virus from spreading outside of the New York suburb, which had become an “epicenter” of the virus in a matter of days. Now the U.S. leads the international community in highest Covid cases and deaths –– total and per capita –– while countries like Australia, Taiwan, and South Korea seemingly have the pandemic under control.

One could argue the main reason for the country’s downfall is that Covid wasn’t the only pandemic the American people were fighting in 2020. 

Police brutality and systemic racism, wildfires and the effects of global climate change, political distrust and the ignorance Donald Trump ushered into office with him each took their turns dividing the nation. On top of mixed messaging from government offices, like the Centers for Disease Control, Americans’ lack of media literacy paired with the sitting president’s blatant lies made the U.S. Covid’s wet dream.

With few reliable sources to turn to, Americans turned to their peers for guidance –– the age-old life hack otherwise known as social proof. 

Scientists and doctors struggled to find answers to questions the American people didn’t feel like asking, while public officials issued guidelines the American people were already ignoring, and what could have been an exemplary standard of the American political and healthcare systems at their best quickly spiraled into the dangerous precedent of creating and living in our own versions of the truth.

Covid by country

And there lies an epidemiological mystery. The usual trend of death from infectious diseases — malaria, typhoid, diphtheria, H.I.V. — follows a dismal pattern. Lower-income countries are hardest hit, with high-income countries the least affected. But if you look at the pattern of Covid-19 deaths reported per capita — deaths, not infections — Belgium, Italy, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom are among the worst off.

Siddhartha Mukherjee

When the world shut down early last year, there was no clear idea of what was going to work and what wasn’t. Countries like China and Italy demonstrated the efficacy of lockdowns. Others, like Sweden, took their chances with herd immunity. 

Roughly one year later, we’re finally starting to see which factors affect Covid’s strength and persistence. Everything from a country’s age and population distribution, citizens’ interferon levels, and how families cohabitate can all affect how quickly a population can overcome the virus.

The best way to determine a person or community’s chance of Covid transmission, survival, and eradication is to cross-examine intrinsic factors (like an individual’s age and health) and extrinsic factors (like whether a person lives in a crowded NYC apartment complex or on a farm in the middle of Kansas). 

But with minimal black and white in sight, scientists are forced to weigh the shades of grey. 

“Are the risks greater for a younger country with a larger family size but with infrequent social contacts or for an older country with a smaller family size but frequent contacts?” –Siddhartha Mukherjee

Regardless of when a country had its first Covid case, or whether its elderly people live among family or in assisted care facilities, there are three measures that foreshadow a community’s chance at eradicating Covid.

According to public-health experts, these successes are the result of a clear recipe: Create a cohesive federal plan with consistent messaging, get everyone to wear masks, and implement widespread testing and contact tracing.

The countries failing to curb their outbreaks are missing at least one of those elements.

The US lacks all of them.

Aylin Woodward

What’sTheFacts

*BIG FAT DISCLAIMER* 

I am not an expert on anything really, so I’m especially not an expert on Covid. I have researched, cross-researched, and tried to find the most trustworthy and up-to-date information to answer each of these questions. Sources are linked throughout and I highly recommend going directly to the sources if you have any other questions or need clarification.

Also, this is long. Feel free to search (by holding down the Command and F keys /or for Windows users/ Control and F keys) for any specific section, keyword, or question you may have.

You can also skip ahead to the final section of this piece (What now) this is simply a mini Covid encyclopedia for your benefit/clarification/use.

If you find any errors, please let me know so I can update accordingly.

What makes covid different from the flu?

There are multiple reasons Covid-19 is deadlier and more contagious than other viruses such as the flu. The first difference between Covid and the flu is that Covid cells have the ability to block interferons (proteins that exist in the body and act as an antiviral defense). Typically, interferons will detect a virus in your body and kickstart your immune system to fight the intruder. Since Covid blocks the cells’ ability to detect its presence, the virus can run rampant.

This is also why Covid takes time to make you feel sick –– your body doesn’t detect the virus from the start, so it doesn’t respond to the virus from the start. By the time your body starts fighting the virus and symptoms like a runny nose, cough, or fever show up, Covid has already been in your body for some time (which is why you quarantine for 14 days after coming in contact with someone who’s Covid-positive).

Since you don’t immediately know when Covid has entered your system, you might continue working and socializing which exponentially increases the amount of people you could infect (and the amount of people they could subsequently infect). 

Covid also affects our cells differently than the flu. Instead of simply killing lung cells, Covid can lead to your cells fusing and forming syncytia (one big cell that contains several nuclei) which stops the cells from functioning properly. This means that while your lungs can completely recover from a serious bout of the flu, the same isn’t true for severe Covid infections.

Covid can also cause increased blood clotting and inflammation, both of which impair the body’s ability to fight Covid and properly heal. These complications are heightened among people who are overweight, causing them to have an even harder time fighting Covid (which is not the case for other respiratory viruses like the flu).

How long does Covid live

On surfaces:

  • Aluminum: 2-8 hours
  • Paper: 3 hours
  • Copper: 4 hours
  • Cardboard: 24 hours
  • Cloth: 2 days
  • Wood: 4 days
  • Plastic: 3-7 days
  • Paper Money: 4 days
  • Glass: 5 days
  • Metal: 5 days

In the air:

  • 3 hours
  • Droplets can travel 13 feet via talking and breathing
    • Droplets emitted from speaking and breathing can stay in the air for 8-14 minutes. That means if you’re outside around people with no masks, you will come in contact with their breathed (and potentially contaminated) air.

Researchers and health experts agree your risk for contracting Covid from touching a contaminated surface is significantly lower than direct interpersonal transmission. These tests were completed in a lab and don’t necessarily reflect Covid’s response to factors like sunlight or extreme temperatures. 

Spreading
  • Can asymptomatic people spread the virus?

Yes, you can spread Covid even if you don’t have symptoms. Earlier, we discussed how Covid can wreak havoc on the body roughly one week before symptoms arise, meaning you can carry the virus (and spread it) well before you realize you’re sick.

  • Does it only spread if you don’t wear a mask?

No. Masks have proven to dramatically reduce the airborne spread of Covid (protecting mask wearers from both spreading and contracting the virus). Still, recent findings suggest Covid particles can still spread through some masks via cough or sneeze (N95 masks blocked all* particles from spreading). This means people who have Covid can spread small amounts of the virus while wearing a mask and people without Covid are susceptible to small amounts of the virus while wearing a mask. 

Essentially, close-up face-to-face contact with a person who has Covid, even if asymptomatic and wearing a mask, could still expose you to the virus.

This doesn’t mean masks aren’t effective, or that you shouldn’t wear a mask. It simply provides scientific data that masks (when properly fitted) and social distancing work, and we absolutely should continue doing both. 

*The study reported “the N95 mask has statistically zero particles escaping through it in the ‘protection’ configuration.” 

Symptoms
  • Can you have Covid if you don’t have a fever?

Yes. In fact, studies show Covid often exists in the body for roughly a week (5-7 days) before symptoms such as a fever arise.

  • What are the most common symptoms?

Fever, body aches, dry cough, sore throat, chills, and headache. 

Other non-respiratory symptoms include neurological symptoms like loss of taste and smell, muscle weakness, and dizziness, along with gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

  • When should you get tested?

If you’re regularly in contact with other people, especially high-risk populations, you should get tested regularly, even if you don’t have symptoms.

At the very least, you should call your primary care provider or local testing center as soon as you develop Covid symptoms to see when and how you should get a test.

Testing
  • Is testing accurate?

Yes, molecular tests (like PCR tests) specifically identify Covid’s genetic material, so a positive test means the virus is present in your system and a negative test means Covid could not be detected. 

It’s important to remember that you can contract Covid shortly before or shortly after your test and get a negative result, even though you have the virus. Stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands.

  • Does more testing lead to higher Covid numbers?

No, kind of, but no. The more people who take Covid tests, the more Covid statistics there will be. This inherently means there will be higher numbers of positive (and negative) cases reported. But testing doesn’t create more Covid cases, it simply identifies them

A simple way to tell that increasing testing does not increase case rates is to check the percentage of people who test positive, rather than the total number of people who test positive. 

  • Can you test positive when you don’t actually have Covid?

A rapid test could potentially render a false positive, but it isn’t likely, and the odds of a false-positive PCR test are close to none. False positives are more common with rapid Covid testing in areas with low Covid rates and with antibody testing.

If your Covid test comes back positive, it’s because the test detected the virus in your body. Ipso facto, you have Covid.

  • Can you test negative and actually have Covid?

Yes. If you’re tested early after your infection, you can test negative even though the virus is present in your system. 

You can also test negative and contract Covid shortly after your test. While this isn’t technically a false negative, you would still have Covid even though you tested negative.

Even if you test negative for Covid, you need to continue wearing a mask and social distancing. 

  • Does rapid testing work?

Yes, but not as well as PCR testing. Rapid testing is best for people who actively have Covid symptoms and, therefore, are at or near peak infection. 

If you take a rapid test too early, it is more likely to provide false negatives than a PCR test. 

When you have Covid
  • What happens when you have it?

For most people, Covid poses mild symptoms including dry cough, sore throat, chills, headache, and body aches. Many Covid cases are also accompanied by high fever, and some people experience loss of taste and smell, muscle weakness, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

For those with minor symptoms that go away on their own, the CDC recommends quarantining for 10 days or until you are without a fever for 24 hours and your symptoms are decreasing or gone.

  • How long does it last?

That depends on a variety of factors. Some people have minor symptoms and overcome Covid in a matter of days. Some are severely affected by the virus and are sick longer, and some people even face long-lasting effects of the virus well after they have healed.

As we all know, Covid also claims lives. With over half a million U.S. Covid deaths, it’s clear that some Covid patients pay the ultimate price. 

Wear a mask.

  • How does it affect people with preexisting conditions?

As we’ve discussed, Covid affects almost everyone differently, and it’s very hard to predict how someone’s immune system will react after contracting the virus.

People with asthma, for example, could face more serious lung problems with Covid than someone without, but “there are no published data to support this determination at this time.”

Still, conditions including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, stroke, and cancer can increase a person’s risk of death after contracting Covid.

  • Do you have to wear a mask in your house?

If you live with other, uninfected people then yes. You should also quarantine separately from all healthy people and sanitize any surfaces you touch. 

  • Does it only kill older people?

No. Your risk of severe illness or death increases with age, but Covid can seriously infect and kill people of all ages, including children. Other preexisting conditions like asthma and factors like smoking can also increase your risk for severe sickness.

Still, 18-39-year-olds account for roughly 2% of U.S. Covid deaths, while people 65 and older account for roughly 81%.

  • Why do some people die and some don’t even get sick?

It isn’t completely clear why some people never have Covid symptoms while others face severe cases and death. But remember the interferons we talked about earlier? It might have something to do with those little proteins.

“New research suggests that up to 14% of people who develop severe COVID-19 have an inadequate interferon response. In some people, this happens because their own antibodies mistakenly attack and neutralize their interferons. Others have a genetic mutation that prevents their body from producing enough of a certain type of interferon. … Another important reason for differences in severity of COVID-19 illness is also related to the immune system. If the immune system doesn’t turn off once the virus is controlled, it can go into overdrive. The result: an intense and widespread inflammatory response damaging tissues throughout the body.” –Harvard Health

  • Does it affect your life after?

It can. Some people experience Covid symptoms like shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, and chest pain long after they’ve recovered from the virus. Other cases, although less common, show Covid can cause problems in the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain but the long-term implications of these effects is still unknown. 

After you have Covid:

  • Are you immune?

Yes, but not forever. Some studies suggest that Covid-19 antibodies can provide immunity (or keep previously infected people from contracting Covid again) within six months. This data is still preliminary and more tests are in the works to get a better idea of how long Covid antibodies protect people from reinfection. 

  • Can you get it again?

Yes, there are cases of people who have recovered from Covid and become reinfected, but this is still relatively rare.

  • Do you need to wear a mask?

Yes, you also need to continue socially distancing. Since scientists are still studying how strong and long-lasting antibodies are, you should move forward as though you could contract Covid again in the next few months (since it is likely that you can). 

  • Do you need to quarantine if you come in contact with a Covid-positive person?

No. If you come into contact with someone who has Covid within three months of recovering from Covid yourself, you do not need to quarantine. 

If you come into contact with someone who has Covid after the three months, you will need to quarantine (or be sure to get the vaccine shortly after the three month mark to avoid contracting the virus).

Quarantine
  • How long if you have Covid?

10 days. According to the CDC, people with Covid can interact with others 10 days after their symptoms first appeared as long as they have gone 24 hours without a fever and their other Covid symptoms have improved.

People with severe Covid cases and preexisting conditions may need to quarantine longer than those with less severe cases.

  • How long if someone in your house has Covid?

14 days after your last exposure to a person with Covid. 

You do not need to quarantine if you have completed your Covid vaccine within the last three months and don’t have Covid symptoms OR if you’ve recovered from Covid within the last three months and don’t have Covid symptoms. 

  • Why 14 days?

“About 97% of the people [exposed to Covid] who get infected and develop symptoms will do so within 11 to 12 days, and about 99% will within 14 days.” –NPR

Vaccine
  • What’s the difference between different brands?

Please enjoy this super rough and largely plagiarized (data and layout from Business Insider, plus data from CNN, NPR, and NYT) chart displaying the major differences between vaccine brands. Effectiveness of the vaccines increases when considering severe cases vs. mild cases, each vaccine has been tested in different regions of the world and with different Covid variants, and each company presented its findings differently.

Health experts recommend getting vaccinated regardless of which vaccine is available to you. All vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S. protect against severe cases of Covid and can help prevent mild to moderate cases.

The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not been granted emergency use authorization in the U.S. Both vaccines are in the process of pursuing approval –– AstraZeneca is undergoing a U.S. clinical trial and J&J is expected to be FDA approved for emergency use in the coming days.

*UPDATE*

The FDA granted emergency use authorization for the J&J vaccine on Feb. 27.

  • When you get the vaccine, are you immune?

Vaccines don’t magically grant immunity for any disease, so to expect that of a Covid vaccine would be unfair and simply implausible. 

Vaccines work by helping your body build its immune defense for whatever virus you’re trying to inhibit. Covid vaccines specifically have been designed with a focus on reducing or completely preventing symptoms from showing up. 

Since the Covid vaccines are still in relatively early stages, more testing is underway to examine what type of immunity the vaccines provide (whether effective –– preventing serious illness but not preventing the virus from entering the body –– or sterilising –– totally preventing contraction and asymptomatic cases) and whether they can prevent or reduce spreading the virus.

Even though Covid vaccines don’t provide perfect protection from the virus, you should still get a vaccine when it is available to you. 

  • Does it make you sick?

No. Each vaccine brand has different side effects (like chills, headaches, and muscle aches) and complications for those with certain allergies, but a Covid vaccine won’t give you Covid. 

The AstraZeneca vaccine (which is still being tested in the U.S.) has side effects including fever and nausea, but also will not give you Covid.

  • Is it dangerous?

The vaccines largely haven’t been tested on children, so certain vaccines are not intended for them or anyone who has certain allergies or health concerns. Pregnant women can receive the vaccine, according to the CDC, although research still needs to be done to fully understand the effects of Covid vaccines for pregnant women.

(Refer to chart for more specific information on who shouldn’t receive certain vaccine brands.)

Covid vaccines essentially teach your body to make certain parts of Covid cells (specifically the spike protein) that can help invade and attack the virus, and continue working to build your body’s immune response.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do this by storing the instructions in single-stranded mRNA which teaches the body to make the Covid spike protein then breaks down (never affecting the cells’ genetic makeup). 

The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines work a bit differently.

J&J took the gene which makes up part of a Covid cell (the spike protein) and added it to Adenovirus 26 –– a modified version of a type of virus that causes colds and flu symptoms, which can enter the body without replicating or making the host sick.

Whereas Pfizer and Moderna vaccines store instructions in single-stranded RNA, Adenovirus vaccines can store instructions in double-stranded DNA which is stronger and gives the vaccine a longer shelf-life. 

Each of the vaccines helps boost your body’s immune response to Covid and help prevent severe cases.

  • Why do you need two doses?

The Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca vaccines require two doses for full protection. While some protection was evident after only one dose, it is simply not enough to be effective in fighting the virus.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine requires only one dose. 

  • How long does it last?

Right now, studies are showing that those who receive Covid vaccines are protected for four months. This can change with further studies and further vaccine development.

  • Can you spread the virus once you have the vaccine?

Potentially, which is why you should continue wearing a mask, staying home, and social distancing even if you’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid.

Vaccines are currently being tested to see whether they can prevent asymptomatic spreading.

  • Is it safe for pregnant women?

The CDC states pregnant women can receive the Covid vaccine, but should consider the lack of testing before getting vaccinated.

  • Is it safe for children?

As of right now, children cannot be vaccinated for Covid. Testing is underway and results are expected by “midyear.” 

  • What is herd immunity and does it work?

Herd immunity is the protection of a community from a disease due to the large majority’s immunity to said disease.

Basically, when enough people in a community (or country) are immune to a disease, whether caused by naturally gained immunity from surviving the disease or by boosting the body’s immune response with a vaccine, it protects those who aren’t immune or who can’t get vaccines. Since most people can’t contract the illness, spreading the disease becomes highly unlikely.

Herd immunity absolutely works. We’ve seen it happen with polio, mumps, and measles (that’s why you rarely hear of people getting these diseases in America today) ((unless they’re anti-vaxers)) (((we don’t support anti-vaxers here))).

  • How many people need to be vaccinated before life goes back to normal?

Roughly 70-90% of the population will likely need to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity. Since children account for roughly 24% of the population, and trials for vaccine efficacy and safety in children are still in progress, it will take until at least the end of summer before nearly a quarter of the American people even have access to the vaccine. 

Still, “the U.S. may never reach vaccination rates of 75 to 85 percent, the experts said.” Many people are choosing not to be vaccinated for various reasons. Hopefully, once more testing is done and we have a better understanding of how effective and long-lasting these vaccines can be, more eligible people will be vaccinated. Until then, expect to keep wearing your mask and staying home.

  • Is it safe to travel once you’re vaccinated?

Kind of, but you probably still shouldn’t. Plus, every state and country has different restrictions and requirements for travellers, and even those who are vaccinated often have to show negative Covid test results before going to certain countries or boarding planes.

Masks
  • Do masks really stop the spread?

Yes. Not all masks block 100% of Covid particles, but they still significantly reduce your risk of spreading or contracting the virus, especially when paired with social distancing.

  • Do masks protect you or other people?

Both! Wearing a mask protects you from getting the virus and spreading the virus by reducing the amount of water droplets that transfer between people when speaking, breathing, and coughing.

A UC San Francisco study suggests those who do contract Covid while wearing a mask may face less severe sickness compared to those exposed to Covid without a mask. 

Some particles can still escape certain masks, so close face-to-face contact with others still poses a risk for transmission. Keep wearing your mask, but keep socially distancing, too.

  • Do you need two masks?

Kind of, but not really. The CDC suggests multi-layer masks provide more protection against Covid, but it all depends on how your mask fits. For cloth masks, the CDC recommends choosing an option with two or three layers that fits your face snugly enough so there are no gaps. 

If your mask has multiple layers and fits your face properly, you only need one mask. If your cloth mask is loose or thin, wearing an additional cloth or disposable mask underneath will simply increase your protection.

  • What kind of mask works best?

N95 masks are most effective at blocking transmission of particles while coughing and sneezing, but the CDC and FDA request that these masks be used in healthcare settings only. 

Cloth masks, when worn properly and paired with social distancing, provide proper protection for the general public. 

  • Do I need to wear a mask outside?

If there are other people around you (aside from those who live in your household) then yes, you need to wear a mask outside.

If you are by yourself or away from others, then wearing a mask outside is not necessary.

Kids and Covid

  • Can they spread it?

Michel Barbaro summarized it best: “The essential thing to know about kids — especially younger kids — and the coronavirus is that they are not great spreaders, but they are still spreaders of the virus.” Data shows that kids can spread Covid, but children 10 and younger seem to spread Covid half as effectively as adults. Older kids exhibit similar patterns as adults when it comes to spreading Covid.

  • Can they get sick?

Yes. It is much less likely for children 10 years and younger to contract the virus or get sick from it. Still, there have been cases of severe Covid illness in kids, and 250 children have died from Covid-19 in the U.S.

Older kids (roughly 15+) exhibit similar patterns as adults when it comes to contracting Covid. 

  • Can they get vaccinated?

Not yet. The vaccine has only been tested on adults, so kids won’t be vaccinated until more studies can show whether the Covid vaccines are safe and effective for children.

  • Someone in my house has Covid. Can we combine our laundry?

Yes. When coming in contact with a Covid-positive person’s clothing, be sure to wear gloves and don’t shake their laundry out. Wash the clothes on the warmest setting and dry them before touching the clothes without gloves. Be sure to sanitize any laundry baskets or shared surfaces the clothes come in contact with.

Social distancing
  • Why six feet?

“The conventional wisdom behind six-foot separations originated from research by a German biologist, Carl Flügge, who in the late 1800s suggested that was as far as microbe-containing droplets could travel.” –Washington Post

But science from this century shows that six feet realistically isn’t accurate or adequate, especially without use of masks. The Washington Post reported in March that an infected person at a Washington choir practice spread the virus to 52 people, one of whom was 45 feet away. 

The trick about outdoor dining is, yes, being outside away from others without a mask on is safe. But at many restaurants, proper distancing isn’t possible. 

Plus, if you’re meeting people out to eat who don’t live in your household, you’re just as exposed to Covid as you would be among a group of strangers. Not to mention, sitting at a table with your mask off does little to protect the restaurant employees who are serving you.

The best way to support your local eateries during Covid is to order pickup and tip well.

  • Indoor dining

The short answer: “it’s still safest to avoid.” –CNN

I repeat, the best way to support your local eateries during Covid is to order pickup and tip well.

  • Malls

Believe it or not, going to crowded places during Covid does in fact increase your risk of getting Covid.

Contract tracing in El Paso over the holidays found that 55% of positive cases could be tracked back to large retail stores. 

Depending on local regulations, hair salons and beauty spas may or may not be open in your area right now. Many salon services avoid face-to-face contact between customers and technicians, reducing the risk of spreading Covid during your treatment.

Still, going in public will pose a risk, and times when you’re cashing out or close to your tech or other clients could also increase your likelihood of spreading or contracting the virus.

Check your local ordinances and salon guidelines to gauge whether proper health and safety precautions are in place (like temperature checks, minimized in-person seating areas, and increased cleaning measures). And make sure to wear a mask during your services to reduce your risk of transmission.

Drive-thrus are a great way to minimize your contact with employees and customers in businesses like restaurants and pharmacies. Keep in mind that the same safety protocols apply in drive-thrus (i.e. wear your mask) even though you aren’t in the same building as the people serving you.

  • Grocery stores

Based solely on the fact that I watched a man walk into a grocery store maskless and with no shoes on, who proceeded to eat fruit out of the produce section while perusing, I’m gonna say you should avoid grocery stores.

Ordering groceries online for pickup (which is often free) or delivery can help reduce the time you spend in stores, the amount of people you come in contact with, and your chance of getting or spreading the virus.

Antibodies
  • What does antibody testing show?

Antibodies are proteins your body makes to fight foreign substances, and these tests measure whether your body has produced Covid-specific antibodies. If you have Covid-19 antibodies, it’s likely that you’ve had and recovered from Covid.

  • If I have Covid antibodies, does that mean I’m immune?

There are two types of antibodies: binding and neutralizing. Binding antibodies help your body fight Covid while you have it, then slowly decrease after you recover. These don’t necessarily fight future infections (or make you immune). 

Neutralizing antibodies –– in cases of other coronaviruses (aside from Covid-19) –– have proven to boost immunity and prevent reinfection. But the effects and strength of Covid antibody immunity are still being studied.

Globally

There are 14 countries which have reported zero Covid cases, according to the World Health Organization.

WHO has designated a “no cases” transmission classification to 23 countries in total (including the 14 with zero total cases) signifying few cases or small, contained outbreaks.

  • Why has Covid lasted so long in America?

As a non-answer, I will leave you with this Atlantic piece from last August, and a bitter remark that Americans largely refuse to learn from both our mistakes and others’ intelligence, leaving little room for growth or change.

  • How long will Covid last?

Short answer: it depends.

Long answer: read this.

What now

Above all, what’s needed is humility in the face of an intricately evolving body of evidence.

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Covid is far from over. 

More people are spreading, contracting, and dying from this virus every day. We’re learning more about this virus every day, too. But if we continue moving forward without making changes, people will continue contracting and dying from Covid for the foreseeable future. 

The facts are clear: wearing masks, social distancing, and getting vaccinated can and will decrease the spread of Covid. But the implications of this virus go beyond the lives it has and will cost.

America lost control of Covid the moment it began because our leaders and people chose to value the information we knew over the information we didn’t know, and the latter well outweighs the former still to this day.

It’s natural to form opinions based on the information you know, that’s how we learn to interpret the world around us. But we need to keep seeking new information, even that which makes us uncomfortable, and when we find something that challenges our current understanding, we need to be willing to change our opinions accordingly.

It’s healthy to ask questions of people in charge. But when interrogating experts leads to trusting fools, only chaos ensues. And we’re still learning, still testing vaccines, still finding new and more contagious strains of the virus, still determining how to move forward in schools, businesses, and society at large.

Covid is still new and people (even health experts) were bound to make mistakes along the way. Our worst mistake yet was choosing to create truths that fit our own narrative rather than believing hard truths from the experts. 

Don’t let those mistakes be for nothing; let them give us purpose moving forward.

We can find purpose. Purpose worthy of the lives they lived and worthy of the country we love. So today I ask all Americans to remember. Remember those we lost and those we left behind. But as you remember, as we all remember, I also ask us to act. To remain vigilant. To stay socially distant. To mask up. Get vaccinated when it’s your turn. 

We must end the politics and misinformation that’s divided families, communities, and the country. 

It’s cost too many lives already.

Joe Biden

With love,

Jacklyn

Featured image via United Nations Covid Response

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