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After Omicron, Should We Be Aiming at 'Zero Covid'?

Amesh Adalja, Agustina Vergara Cid

Presented at: New Ideal Live

Date: Jan 05, 2022

Two years into the pandemic, yet another Covid-19 variant has emerged. Some still advocate for government intervention and lockdowns in an effort to reach “covid-zero”, while others say this virus is destined to become endemic.

Should we be trying to eliminate Covid or is a different strategy needed? Join Agustina Vergara Cid as she interviews infectious disease expert Amesh Adalja about the Omicron wave, immunity, risk-assessment, and more.

Overview article available here

Among the topics covered:

  • What Omicron’s high transmissibility means for hospital capacity;
  • How government Covid policies have changed from the early months of the pandemic;
  • The problem with focusing on case numbers rather than hospitalizations and deaths;
  • The merit of a harm-reduction approach to Covid-19 versus an “abstinence only” approach;
  • Why the virus that causes Covid-19, unlike the measles virus, cannot be eliminated;
  • The effectiveness of the currently available vaccines against Omicron;
  • The benefits of vaccine boosters for different populations;
  • Whether measuring every patient hospitalized “with Covid” is a good indication of hospital capacity;
  • Omicron’s effect on children and the value of pediatric vaccination;
  • The next generation of Covid-19 vaccines;
  • The protection offered by natural immunity before and after the arrival of Omicron;
  • The merits of Paxlovid and other antiviral therapeutics;
  • What explains the unavailability of Covid-19 tests, and their effectiveness at detecting Omicron;
  • The validity of the CDC’s new recommended isolation period.

Mentioned in the discussion is Adalja’s article “‘Abstinence only’ approach to COVID failed in 2021 — missed opportunity for teaching harm reduction,” published in The Hill.

0:00:00 Introduction
0:00:46 Contagiousness and hospital capacity
0:03:23 Changing government Covid policies
0:06:23 Case numbers versus hospitalization, death
0:08:27 Harm-reduction versus "abstinence only"
0:17:16 Why Covid-19, unlike measles, can't be eliminated
0:20:27 Vaccine effectiveness against Omicron
0:28:13 Benefits of vaccine boosters
0:30:23 Measuring hospital capacity
0:32:44 Omicron and children
0:36:12 New Covid-19 vaccines
0:38:50 Natural immunity
0:42:25 Paxlovid and other antivirals
0:45:28 Covid-19 tests: availability, effectiveness
0:50:54 CDC's recommended isolation period


Parts: 1

Handout: none