While COVID-19 cases are declining, a health expert from Virginia warned that the virus could rise again.
NORFOLK, Va. – COVID-19 cases are declining, but a health expert from Virginia reminds people to be vigilant against the virus.
Marshall Guard, a senior epidemiologist at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), said the worst increase may be behind us, but it’s still too early to fail our guard.
“I think the numbers look really encouraging right now,” Vogt said. “They are certainly on the decline, and that’s after a really significant wave of omicron. But I think it’s really too early to relax everything and retreat to all these mitigation strategies that we practice.”
Vogt said there could be another increase in COVID-19 cases later in the year.
“We never know what’s around the corner,” Vogt said. “This virus has been very unpredictable and it continues to be very unpredictable.”
Although there is a risk that people may become less cautious, Vogt said he does not see it right now. He said Virginians still do the right thing by getting vaccinated and isolating themselves when they are sick.
“I do not think we are completely complacent right now,” Vogt said. “I think many of us still have in our minds the mental framework of wanting to be on the lookout and being protected.”
Vogt said there are several tools available to prepare for another potential COVID-19 wave, including treatments and the vaccine.
He added that timed practices such as social distancing, hand washing and masking are all effective in slowing the spread of the virus. If there is another wave, these strategies combined with the vaccine will help prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
VDH too launched an “Isolation / Quarantine Calculator” to guide Virginians on what to do if they have been exposed to the virus.
But the declining case numbers also come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said protection against vaccine booster shots is declining after four months.
Vogt said that although booster protection may fall, it does not disappear completely, and it is still proven that the vaccine reduces hospitalizations and deaths.
“The effectiveness of the vaccine may be declining, but the vaccine is still overall very effective,” he said.
But this latest update of the booster shot again raises questions about a fourth dose.
Vogt said that since protection decreases over time and the virus mutates, there are likely to be more booster shots, though it is still under investigation.
“I think it’s a stated option,” he said. “When we look at this really becoming more of an endemic disease. I think it could very well be the kind of situation where we get an annual shot.”
Right now, the CDC recommends a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with compromised immune systems.