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The worst of omicron is over.  Here is what Dr Ashish Jha says is needed next.

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The worst of omicron is over. Here is what Dr Ashish Jha says is needed next.

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“Hope is not a strategy.”

Lines of cars line up at a COVID testing site in the Eastfield Mall parking lot in Springfield. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Dr Ashish Jha said this week that if current COVID-19 trends continue, many parts of the country may soon be in a position where communities can ease public health restrictions. But the doctor also insisted that there is still work to be done to protect against the ongoing pandemic.

In one Washington Post opinion piece and Twitter, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health outlined the pandemic’s next steps as the omicron push shows signs of ending across the country.

Although Jha said anything is possible with COVID-19, he wrote that the United States has likely passed the peak of the omicron surge and, if the trend follows what happened in South Africa and in Britain, infection rates could return to a much more manageable level. rate in a month. Falling case numbers and increasing hospital capacity leave room for easing mask mandates and indoor gathering restrictions, he said.

In mid-February, Jha predicted that the number of cases should be relatively low nationwide, in part due to high levels of immunity in the population due to the many infections seen during the omicron surge and the makes more people get boosted.

Jha said on Twitter that a marked drop in the number of cases and significant increases in hospital capacity should lead to an easing of public health restrictions, including mask mandates and indoor capacity limits.

“During future surges, we may have to ask people to step down or mask up again,” Jha wrote. “Preserving people’s will to do things is essential.

Beyond easing measures when surges end, Jha stressed that the reprieve that may come after the worst of omicron passes should be used to prepare for future surges.

“The bottom line is that as the omicron surge wanes, we will enter a period of uncertainty, with low levels of infections but hard to predict surges, whether from current variants or from new future variants”, Jha wrote in the To post. “As such, we must use the coming months to prepare.”

Jha underscored the continued importance of vaccines saying that “efforts to reach the unvaccinated and under-vaccinated must continue.”

He called for Operation Warp Speed ​​2.0 and continued development of new vaccines, with a focus on building many doses early so the country can better respond to future needs.

Along the same lines, Jha said the nation can no longer be caught off guard when it comes to testing.

“When more testing was urgently needed in the last wave, capacity had to increase almost from zero,” Jha wrote in the To post. “We can’t make that mistake again. We must ensure that we have a large national stock of rapid home tests, and we must continue to increase the production of raw materials, including reagents.

The time between flare-ups should also be used to build up a large supply of therapeutic doses, Jha wrote. Treatments like monoclonal antibodies, intravenous antivirals and therapeutics from Pfizer and Merck can significantly reduce the severity of infections, Jha said, adding that they should be the “cornerstone of infection management.”

“Their potential to significantly mitigate the next wave justifies significant investments in effective protocols and supplies, including making treatments free for those who test positive,” Jha wrote in the To post.

The virus won’t completely disappear any time soon, but Jha said it “doesn’t need to dominate our lives”.

“We need to communicate clearly when we are, what actions people should take during periods of low infection, and what temporary measures we may need during future outbreaks,” Jha wrote in the To post. “Our leaders need to do a better job of communicating where we are, what’s next and how best to prepare.”

Jha said he suspects there will be future surges and more variants, but future trends of the virus are difficult to predict.

“Obviously, I hope there will be no future flare-ups,” he tweeted. “Or the surges won’t matter (because of our high pop immunity). But hope is not a strategy.

The worst of omicron is over. Here is what Dr Ashish Jha says is needed next.

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