SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease’s propagation, produced epidemics across the United States, and as a result, life as we knew it was turned upside down. After more than a year of adjusting to stringent limits when receiving immunizations, many Americans could resume their everyday lives. In the meantime, many more are at risk, and scientists are constantly monitoring for new viral strains that could pose a new danger.
Research into the disease’s effects on the human body and why some cases of COVID-19 are more severe than others continues to be a top priority for scientists and public health professionals.
- Our understanding of COVID-19 has rapidly evolved.
A new person is diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day. While the disease’s impact varies by area, the WHO estimates that more than 256.9 million individuals worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that more than 5.1 million have died due to the condition. According to the World Health Organization, confirmed cases are counted once a day.
There are already more than 47.6 million confirmed and probable cases in the United States, and the CDC estimates that more than 770,800 people have died due to the outbreak. In the United States, 73.9 percent of children and adults aged five and older have received at least one vaccination. In comparison, 62.9 percent of those same age groups are completely vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A disease known as “long COVID,” which can arise weeks after infection and might encompass a wide range of new, returning, or persistent health issues, affects a small percentage of adults and children. Some symptoms can include weariness, muscle soreness, autoimmune diseases, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. After being infected, even those who experienced only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all may develop post-COVID conditions.
Experts now have a better understanding of how the virus spreads between people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that COVID-19 can spread in three ways:
By taking in air when near an infected person who is inhaling virus-containing droplets and particles;
Contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth as a result of these droplets and particles:
If you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with a virus-infected hand.
According to the CDC, the more you engage with others and the longer you connect, the greater your risk of spreading COVID-19, and indoor environments are riskier than outdoor spaces.
In addition, droplets can land on surfaces and infect others who come into contact with them, but this is not likely to be the primary method of transmission for COVID-19.
- Strict controls are essential for halting the spread of the disease
Public health officials focused on “flattening the curve” early on in the pandemic. There was an assumption that the number of COVID-19 cases would peak at some point—on a graph, this peak would correspond to an increase in patients (which could overwhelm hospitals and health care providers).
Last November and December, the US saw what some called a third wave (or perhaps a third peak), if not the continuation of the first wave that started in the spring and never stopped.
- Preventing infection is essential.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with partners around the country to ensure that all individuals (and children as young as five for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine) get the information they need to get vaccinated.
Six months after finishing their first immunization series, if they started with Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or two months after receiving the J&J single-shot vaccine for adults 18 and older, all adults are eligible for a booster dose.