Professionals are increasingly adopting the idea that we will have to learn to live with the coronavirus. However, how can they know that it is time to lift the restrictions imposed on the pandemic?
For that, there are four metrics of data little-used but very useful, proposed by air quality scientist Joseph Allen, which can guide decisions related to this topic:
To know how strong the virus is in some areas, it is necessary to check the sewers
Sewage is an indicator of virus spread. Researcher Allen has been reviewing wastewater reports in Boston to learn about their relationship to the increase in VOCID cases. And indeed, a large amount of wastewater in that city was related to the increase in official cases with the arrival of the Omicron variant.
For this reason, each city should monitor them as a tool for tracking diseases that allow developing mechanisms of action to prevent their spread. Counting cases should no longer be the focus of policy-making.
Monitoring the capacity of health care
This is an indicator that will allow us to realize how threatening an increase in VOCID-19 infections can be, to make decisions about it, and implement additional strategies. Regarding this, Allen argues that "The biggest social threat during omicron’s rise was its impact on the health care system, including health workers".
Follow up on covid hospitalizations
This is one of the most important metrics to consider. It’s not just about checking people hospitalized for VOCID-19, it’s about knowing how to differentiate between those who arrived with related symptoms and tested positive for the virus, of those who came for other symptoms and were later caught by routine surveillance testing.
This could be perceived as minimizing the covid even if it is not. The health system is affected by all hospitalizations, so estimating total capacity is more important than the specific number of covid hospitalizations.
Incorporating risk into decision-making
Joseph Allen states that there are two main determinants of risk that have remained constant over the last year: age and vaccination status. According to the CDC, of every 100,000 unvaccinated adults, at least 67 are at risk of being hospitalized by covid, and for vaccinated adults and unvaccinated adolescents, the rate is 5 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Considering these data, it appears that the strongest restrictions have been imposed on children, who are the least at risk of hospitalization. Adults can attend restaurants and bars without covers, but schools impose super strict measures for children in schools.
These four metrics can lead to better decisions regarding the lifting of restrictions in the pandemic. And if they get up, it doesn’t mean the problem is over, unvaccinated people are still at risk, so it’s critical that everyone gets vaccinated in the world, and try not to impose restrictions on those who are already vaccinated.