Virus Expert Issues Essential Omicron Update

The coronavirus cases are rising fast, fueled by Delta and Omicron variants, and with them, concern about how to stay safe, especially during this holiday season. With that in mind, Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, appeared on Fox News Sunday opposite host Mike Emanuel. Read on for 6 life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Virus Expert Said It's Too Early to Know if Omicron Will Flame Out Fast

Scientists and microbiologists with PPE suit and face mask hold test tube and microscope in lab

South African Omicron cases went way up, and then went way down. Might the same happen in the USA? It's too early to know, said Jha. "We don't have a ton of data yet, but certainly South Africa is a hopeful sign, that this wave of infections that's sweeping across America is gonna rise very, very quickly, but hopefully peak quickly and start coming down quickly as well. That's I think what most of us are expecting, obviously we'll have to see how it plays out here." Meanwhile, get vaccinated or boosted to protect yourself.


Virus Expert Said Schools Should Remain Open

Teacher and children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.

Jha was dismayed that some schools were resorting to distance learning again. "Here we are almost two years into the pandemic. We know how to keep schools open. We know how to keep 'em safe. We know that for kids being in school is the right thing for them, for their mental health, for their education. And we have all sorts of tools to keep schools open….So I don't really understand why school districts are doing this. We can keep schools open and we should absolutely keep schools open…." So I don't really understand why school districts are doing this. think we can, we can keep schools open and we should absolutely keep schools open….This is why I, and I think many of us have said schools should be absolutely the last place to close and the first place to open. There could be times when you have such severe staffing shortages that it may be hard to keep schools going. That really should be the only context. I think at this point, otherwise schools should absolutely be open."

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Virus Expert Said Testing Yourself Before Gatherings is a Good Idea—if You Can Find a Test

Man self tests for COVID-19 home test kit.

Jha agrees with the CDC's recommendation to test yourself before a big family gathering but adds it is "safer to get together this holiday season it's supposed to last year, because we have so many people vaccinated or boosted. And if you are, that's great. Also  I think people should be getting a test before they get together, especially with high risk people. We have plenty of vaccine supply. That's not a problem, but unfortunately we do not have enough tests. This really is something we should have been on top of for months. And I'm disappointed that this is where we are as a country right now. I'm hoping into January, we're gonna see a lot more testing of available, but it would've helped over the holiday season." He added: "I'm hoping that this time around with the president's promise of 500 million tests widely available in January, that finally we'll be able to get that issue under control."

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Virus Expert Said Whether He Thought We'd Need a Fourth Shot

Doctor holding a syringe

"If we need it, I think our health system is prepared," said Dr. Jha, "but let's actually talk about whether we need it or not. And at this moment, based on the data I've seen, I'm pretty skeptical that we're gonna need a fourth shot. We have to ask ourselves, what are we trying to do? Are we trying to block every single infection? Maybe that's our goal. If that's our goal, then yes, maybe we need a fourth shot. Or are we just trying to prevent serious illness and death? Which of course, I think should be our primary goal. So I'm pretty unconvinced at this moment that we need a fourth shot. If we do our system can handle it. But let's get a lot more data before we, I think we, before we even really start seriously thinking about it."

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Virus Expert Said "Fully Vaccinated" Will Likely Mean You Had Three Shots

Close up shot of hands checking Covid-19 vaccine report card and ticking 3rd or booster dose after vaccination.

"I do think we're gonna end up there," said Jha. "We have lots of vaccines that are three shot series. So I don't think the idea of a three shot COVID vaccine series, to be 'fully vaccinated' is either unprecedented or unusual. My take is that's probably where the science is landing right now. And I think in the upcoming weeks or months, the CDC is gonna revise it to say fully vaccinated as three shots."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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