With country reporting a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases – nearly 4,000 cases on average every day over the last one week – there are anxieties about the kind of preventive behaviour one should adopt.
At present, all infections across the country are being caused by Omicron sub-lineages. And, in most people, the infection has been causing mild symptoms such as low-grade fever, runny nose and body ache. The infection, however, is very contagious. If one member of the family has it, it is more likely than not that everybody else will get it.
But it is the people with co-morbidities, who are ending up in hospital ICUs or requiring oxygen support. Their CT scan shows COVID-19 pneumonia, which is not commonly happening in others this time.
Fourth doses are, of course, not available. But if someone living with co-morbidities has not taken their third precaution dose, they should do so. The booster dose improves the existing immunity and quickly increases the antibody levels.
This will only help in reducing the risk of severe disease somewhat – there is no harm in getting the shot. Of course, the vaccine will not confer much additional immunity in those who have had an infection in the last few months; their antibody levels must already be up. It is this hybrid immunity from two doses of vaccine and at least one or two infections in almost the entire population that has resulted in milder disease; the vaccines are not very effective in preventing an infection.
With everything open and no masking mandates in place, what are the precautions people with co-morbidities must take?
First of all, those who are at a higher risk of severe disease should avoid travel and social gatherings.
It is better to avoid leisure travel and gatherings for the moment as COVID-19 cases are definitely going up across the country. Flights, trains, and public transport should be avoided as much as possible. If and when one does travel, one should mask up.
At offices with central air conditioning, those without co-morbidities can still function without a mask, but those with co-morbidities should definitely keep their masks on.
The infection is here to stay, it is endemic. So, people have to live with it and take these precautions whenever there is an increase in cases.