Danger of Covid loss of life for individuals being charged and handled is nearly zero, says White Home Covid Czar
People who stay up to date on their vaccines and receive treatments when they have breakthrough infections are at almost no risk of dying from Covid-19, a senior health official said Tuesday.
dr Ashish Jha, head of the White House Covid task force, said the US had made great strides in fighting Covid since the early days of the pandemic, when thousands of people were dying from the virus every day.
“If you are up to date with your vaccines and treated if you have a breakthrough infection, your risk of dying from Covid is now close to zero,” Jha told reporters at the White House.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300 people are still dying from Covid on average every day.
Jha told reporters last week that 70% of people who die from the virus are aged 75 and older and do not have the latest vaccinations or are not receiving treatment as needed. He said that death toll was unacceptable given all the tools the US now has to deal with the virus.
Jha encouraged people with Covid symptoms to get tested so they can be diagnosed and given treatments like the antiviral pill Paxlovid if needed.
“Treatments that we make available for free today keep people out of the hospital, keep people out of intensive care and prevent the worst possible outcome,” Jha said.
People over 50 and people who are otherwise at increased risk, such as those with compromised immune systems or serious medical conditions, should be seriously considered for treatments, he said.
The US introduced new booster shots in September targeting the dominant subvariant omicron BA.5. While there’s no real data on their effectiveness yet, Jha said they should offer a much higher level of protection based on what scientists know about how the human immune system works.
Health officials expect Covid infections to spike in November through January, as they have done every fall and winter since the pandemic began, Jha said. But it’s hard to predict whether the US will face another big Covid surge because the virus continues to evolve, he added.
“We are not helpless in the face of these challenges. What happens in the coming weeks and months will have a big impact on how the winter plays out, and what really happens this winter is largely up to us as the American people,” Jha said Tuesday.
He urged everyone aged 12 and over to get their new Covid booster shots by Halloween so they’ll be protected in time for Thanksgiving when the holiday season is in full swing. Anyone who is eligible should get out and get their annual flu shot, too, as public health officials expect a significant flu season for the first time since the pandemic began, he said.
One caveat is that people who have recently contracted Covid can wait three months to get their booster because infection also boosts your immunity, Jha said.
“Don’t wait – get your new flu shot and your new Covid shot today,” Jha said. “If Americans did that, we could save hundreds of lives every day this winter.”