Health expert: Surge in COVID-19 cases should no longer be ‘major metric’ of pandemic

Health expert: Surge in COVID-19 cases should no longer be ‘major metric’ of pandemic

A leading health expert said the largely milder symptoms reported by vaccinated people against the coronavirus proves the inoculation is the best way to protect yourself from being seriously sick or dying from the disease and that a surge in case numbers should no longer be the central metric by which to measure the pandemic.

“For two years, infections always preceded hospitalizations which preceded deaths, so you could look at infections and know what was coming,” Ashish K. Jha, dean of Brown University and a former Harvard health expert said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “Omicron changes that. This is the shift we’ve been waiting for in many ways.”

The country has shifted, Jha said, to a place where people who are vaccinated and especially those who have received a booster shot “are gonna bounce back” if they become infected with the coronavirus. “That’s very different than what we have seen in the past,” he said. “So, I no longer think infections, generally, should be the major metric.”

“And so, if you get a high enough dose of this virus, it’ll break through that first wall of your immune system,” Jha said. But the immune system in those who have been vaccinated has “a second wall” that prevents severe illness, he noted, pointing out that most people with breakthrough cases report mild symptoms.”

Also on Sunday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said he is optimistic the nation is now in a better position to beat the pandemic than when the outbreak began, citing enhanced testing and vaccine capabilities.

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