‘There are a lot we still do not know about this killer and the available vaccines. So, it is best to be cautious, or even a bit over-protective, than being arrogant, overly confident
and letting our guard down…’
AS of last count, there were 132,432, 231 COVID-19 cases worldwide (population: about 7.858 billion) with over 3 million deaths. In the United States, the death toll has risen to 569,282 while total cases rose to 31,496,976. Brazil had the highest deaths for that day, 1,623, and total cases. The Philippines had more than 800,000 total cases and over 14,000 deaths.
More than one-third of the people in the USA (population: around 332.5 million) have been vaccinated. The Philippines (population around 110.8 million) started its vaccination drive last March 1, 2021, using China’s SinoVac.
Foreigners are currently not allowed to travel to the Philippines, including Filipinos who are not holders of Philippine passports. Those who are allowed to enter the country must have a hotel reservation for seven days, for quarantine purposes upon arrival.
CDC COVID-19 advisory
Fully vaccinated (those who have completed their shots two weeks prior) are “no longer required to test before or after traveling domestically or internationally from the US, unless required to do so by the international destination country, and they no longer have to self-quarantine after returning to the US., unless required to do so by a state or local jurisdiction,” according to the updated guideline from the CDC. The rest of the advisory follows:
“The agency still recommends that even fully vaccinated travelers wear a mask in public, and take other public health precautions, such as social distancing and avoiding crowds, and practicing hand hygiene.
“Some travel guidance remains unchanged. CDC still recommends fully vaccinated people have proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to the U.S. and get tested 3-5 days later.
“Meanwhile, nothing has changed for travelers who are not fully vaccinated. CDC continues to recommend that not fully vaccinated travelers get a COVID-19 test 1-3 days prior to domestic or international travel, as well as 3-5 days after returning. Those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel and a negative test, or 10 days after travel if not tested. CDC also said those who are not fully vaccinated should avoid non-essential domestic travel.”
Fearing worsening of the pandemic in the United States and a probable fourth wave, “CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, her voice shaking, warned of ‘impending doom’ if states continue to relax restrictions, and if Americans continue to increase travel and ignore public health precautions.”
The four more common variants of COVID-19 include the UK strain (B.1.1.7), around 2,000 cases found in 45 states so far, also in Denmark and Scandinavia, the South African variant (B.1.351), which emerged in South Africa and found in 14 US states, and the Brazilian variant (P.1) infecting at least five cases in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Florida, and Maryland. A US variant, homegrown in California (CAL.,20C), has infected more than 30 percent of the entire state by mid-to-late January and more than 40 percent in Southern California.
The importance of following the guidelines, especially with the re-opening of businesses, is even more important today. Masking, social distancing, good hygiene, and avoiding crowds, limiting travels to essential needs, even after vaccination, could help mitigate the situation.
The significance of this discipline might not be earth-shaking until a loved one is taken away from us because we did not behave accordingly. SARS-CoV2 virus is new and it is mutating to new strains, which could be expected to be more virulent. There are a lot we still do not know about this killer and the available vaccines. So, it is best to be cautious, or even a bit over-protective, than being arrogant, overly confident and letting our guard down, simply because we have been vaccinated. It is now clear worldwide that these vaccines are generally effective (95 percent and greater) and safe, and that mask and social distancing work.
One shot not enough
Some people refuse to get the second shot of the 2-dose vaccines (P-BioNT and Moderna), fearing danger from the second dose and thinking one dose confers full protection. That is not true and very dangerous, and a waste of the vaccine. Also, if one was okay after the first does, the second one should also be fine, as statistics today show.
A physician colleague of mine had his first dose of the vaccine but still got COVID-19 infection from his son five days post-shot, and died. We do not totally know our enemy, especially the variants and worse strains that might evolve; let’s be wise and stay safe.
Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org