By Aneri Upadhyay
The last few years have been associated with the rise and longevity of Covid-19. Although the College has rolled back on testing, the pandemic is still relevant with a new strain affecting more people.
According to NPR health correspondent Rob Stein, the new variant has mutated so much that new vaccines are being tested to combat it.
The rise in cases has been made more evident by the first lady, Jill Biden, testing positive. As reported by the New York Times, Covid-19 cases in hospitals increased by 16% in the week of Aug. 26 from the previous week.
Dr. Dan Barouch, head of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, commented on the rise in cases.
“What I think we’re seeing is the virus continuing to evolve, and then leading to waves of infection, hopefully mostly mild in severity,” he said.
The Biden Administration has also made plans for an annual Covid-19 shot. This will be free for people through private insurance, as well as through a program run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for people that are uninsured.
There have been developments of a new vaccine that has a version of the omicron strain XBB.1.5, according to AP News.
Moderna and Pfizer have both been working on vaccines respectfully. Moderna is confident in their vaccine’s ability to protect against the new BA.2.86 variant by 8.7 times more, reports Reuters.
“We think this is news people will want to hear as they prepare to go out and get their fall boosters,” says Jacqueline Miller, head of infectious diseases at Moderna.
BA.2.86 has been reported in the United States, Switzerland, South Africa, Israel, Denmark and Britain. This variant may be more able to infect individuals who were previously infected and have had prior exposure to Covid-19 vaccines as compared to the other strains, as reported by Reuters.
According to NPR, the booster vaccines are approved for use by people aged 12 or older. In emergencies, they can be used for children six months to 11 years old.
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health and White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator, commented on the effectiveness of the vaccines.
“The data so far suggest that the new [Covid-19] vaccines should be really quite effective against even the new emerging variants that we have seen come up in the last weeks,” Jha said. “So I'm actually quite optimistic this new vaccine is going to be protective."
The College’s Student Health Services expected an increase of Covid-19 cases at the beginning of the fall semester but has it under control as of now.
People should still take precautions and report if they test positive for Covid-19, as well as not go to class if feeling sick.
“If you’re not feeling well, don’t go to class or work,” says Khadjah Tosun, a junior psychology major. “Be respectful of others.”