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When Will We Know If the Coronavirus Is a Global Pandemic? – Healthline

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  • There are different levels of disease, based on how widespread it is and how often it occurs within a community.
  • A pandemic is an epidemic (a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease) that’s spread over several countries or continents. It usually affects a large number of people.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has said we’re not yet in a pandemic, but it’s possible that will change.

The last couple of months have seen the COVID-19 crisis grow into a worldwide emergency, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report it’s still too early to declare COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic.

“We are taking and will continue to take aggressive action to reduce the impact of this virus, that it will have on the communities in the U.S. We are working with state, local, and territorial health departments to ready our public health workforce to respond to local cases and the possibility this outbreak could become a pandemic,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a statement.

But what is a “pandemic,” and what are the implications?

According to the CDC, there are different levels of disease, based on how widespread it is and how often it occurs within a community.

The first level is called “endemic.” This is the amount of disease usually present in a community; the constant presence or usual occurrence of a disease or infectious agent in a population. It’s also referred to as the “baseline level” of a disease.

An “epidemic” is a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above the endemic level for that area.

However, the term “outbreak,” although having the same definition as epidemic, is typically when the disease occurs in a relatively small area.

Finally, a “pandemic” is an epidemic that’s spread over several countries or continents. It usually affects a large number of people.

“A pandemic is person-to-person spread of a disease causing significant illness and death on an exceptionally broad worldwide scale. As opposed to an epidemic, which would be the spread of a disease to an area such as a community, nation, or portions of the world, as well as tending to be a non-exceptional occurrence,” Dr. Charles Bailey, medical director of infection prevention at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California, told Healthline.

The CDC further separates outbreaks of disease by the source.

Disease outbreaks can come from a “common source,” like when a group of people with food poisoning all ate at the same restaurant.

Then there’s a “propagated outbreak.” This occurs when a disease is passed from one person to another. It can result from person-to-person contact, sharing needles, or as in the case of Lyme disease, by deer ticks.

“So, it’s not enough to say that somebody that was in, for example, Hubei province has COVID-19, and then they travel somewhere else or somebody who was staying with them goes back to their home country and they’re found to have it,” said Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

He explains that that doesn’t make it a pandemic. What makes a difference is when you start to have people, such as within Italy or South Korea, “who are transmitting it to other people in that area.”

He emphasizes that it typically starts out with family members.

“Currently, as reported, there are 79,553 people infected and about 2,628 deaths in 29 countries. The WHO will need input from multiple health partners across the world prior to deeming this a pandemic,” said Dr. Vidya Mony, FAAP, associate hospital epidemiologist of infection prevention at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Mony points out that the last pandemic was the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and neither SARS, MERS, nor Ebola qualified as a pandemic despite differing severity, case counts, and death rates.

“As always, we will await guidance from CDC, WHO as to our next steps. But, as a hospital system, it is important that we prepare ourselves for this potential,” Mony said. “The most important aspect is that everyone remains calm and has an emergency preparedness plan in the event of a pandemic.”

Just over 100 years ago, an incredibly dangerous strain of H1N1 spread across the world.

It’s been largely forgotten, but the Spanish flu of 1918 ultimately infected between 25 to 30 percent of the world population and killed an estimated 40 million people.

Fichtenbaum believes the government is taking COVID-19 seriously.

“I think that the preparedness in the United States is starting to change already, and I think we’re starting to see those directives. We’re seeing language coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that they’re starting to think about what happens if we have epidemic levels of COVID-19 and how do we contain its spread and protect people,” he said. “And so very much like some of the early discussions with the Ebola virus, we’re now starting to see this, so the interest is very high.”

Fichtenbaum says that part of the U.S. strategy would be for healthcare facilities in each city, and each locale, to begin planning:

  • where they’ll care for people with the virus
  • who would be tested
  • what would be the criteria they use to decide what actions to take

He added, “Of course, this time of year, is very much complicated by influenza, which is virtually indistinguishable from a clinical perspective, so you’d have to be testing people for COVID-19 as well as influenza and also quarantining people so that you could contain the spread of it.”

“It’s a matter of time, but I think that it’s only days or weeks from the World Health Organization calling this [COVID-19] a pandemic,” Fichtenbaum said.

A pandemic involves local people transmitting an infection that affects a significant portion of the population. The CDC hasn’t determined that the situation with COVID-19 meets those criteria — yet.

New diseases have regularly appeared and caused widespread sickness, disruption, and deaths. COVID-19 is one of a long line of health challenges the world has had to deal with.

The United States is preparing to deal with a potential pandemic situation, and experts say it’s only a matter of time before the WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic.

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Vaccination plus infection offered most protection during Delta surge, U.S. study shows – CBC News

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Protection against the previously-dominant Delta variant was highest among people who were both vaccinated and had survived a previous COVID-19 infection, according to a report published Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report also found those who had previously been infected with COVID-19 were better protected against the Delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, suggesting that natural immunity was a more potent shield than vaccines against that variant, California and New York health officials reported on Wednesday.

Protection against Delta was lowest among those who had never been infected or vaccinated, the CDC report continued.

“The evidence in this report does not change our vaccination recommendations,” Dr. Ben Silk of the CDC and one of the study’s authors told a media briefing.

“We know that vaccination is still the safest way to protect yourself against COVID-19,” he said.

The findings do not apply to the Omicron variant of the virus, which now accounts for 99.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Study includes data from May to November

For the study, health officials in California and New York gathered data from May through November, which included the period when the Delta variant was dominant.

It showed that people who survived a previous infection had lower rates of COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated alone.

That represented a change from the period when the Alpha variant was dominant, Silk told the briefing.

“Before the Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection,” he said.

In the summer and fall of 2021, however, when Delta became the predominant circulating iteration of the virus in the United States, “surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against the subsequent infection than vaccination,” he said.

But acquiring immunity through natural infection carries significant risks. According to the study, by Nov. 30, 2021, roughly 130,781 residents of California and New York had died from COVID-19.

The analysis did not include information on the severity of initial infection, nor does it account for the full range of illness caused by prior infection.

One important limitation to the study was that it ended before administration of vaccine booster doses was widespread.

WATCH | Experts agree the science behind booster shots is sound:

The safe science behind COVID-19 booster shots

5 days ago

Duration 1:55

While some Canadians who have received their booster shots have later tested positive for COVID-19, medical experts agree that the science behind booster jabs is sound. 1:55

‘Clearly shows’ vaccines provide safest protection

Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health, said in an email that the study “clearly shows” that vaccines provide the safest protection against COVID-19 and they offer added protection for those with prior infections.

“Outside of this study, recent data on the highly contagious Omicron variant shows that getting a booster provides significant additional protection against infection, hospitalization and death,” Pan said.

Silk said the CDC is studying the impact of vaccination, boosters and prior infection during the Omicron surge and expects to issue further reports when that data becomes available.

So far, Omicron has proven to evade some level of immunity from both vaccination and previous infection, but vaccines are still largely preventing serious illness and death.

An Israeli hospital on Monday also said preliminary research indicates a fourth dose of leading mRNA-based vaccines provides only limited defence against infection from the variant.

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COVID-19: Go-Vaxx mobile vaccination clinic to return to Haliburton County with 3 stops – Globalnews.ca

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Ontario’s GO-VAXX mobile vaccination clinic is making three stops in Haliburton County in the coming weeks, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit announced Wednesday.

The retrofitted GO bus will provide first, second and boosters doses of COVID-19 vaccinations to any eligible residents, including doses for children ages 5-11. Moderna will be provided to individuals 30 and older, unless they have a documented allergy to Moderna.

Read more:

Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill not a replacement for COVID-19 vaccine, officials say

All appointments must be booked in advance through the Provincial Booking System or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Appointments can be booked starting at 8 a.m. the day before the clinic.

Clinics will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

  • Saturday, Jan. 29 : A.J. LaRue Arena, 728 Mountain St., in Haliburton
  • Saturday, Feb. 5: Lloyd Watson Community Centre, 2249 Loop Rd., in Wilberforce
  • Saturday Feb. 12: A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton

“Being fully vaccinated with a booster dose has proven to be effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalization against the Omicron variant,” said Doreen Boville, health promoter with the health unit. “To ensure anyone needing a vaccine can get one, appointments are necessary for a smooth rollout.”

Individuals are asked to bring their Ontario health card. If you do not have a health card or your health card is expired, bring another form of government photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, Status card, or birth certificate.

The health unit has appointments available at COVID-19 vaccination clinics being held throughout the region. A list of dates and times is available on the health unit’s www.hkpr.on.ca. Residents are also encouraged to check with local pharmacies or their primary health care providers for more opportunities to get vaccinated.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the health unit reported 822 active cases within its jurisdiction including 35 in Haliburton County.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Prior COVID-19 infection offered protection against Delta variant, but vaccines still best shield against the virus, study says – The Globe and Mail

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People who had previously been infected with COVID-19 were better protected against the Delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, suggesting that natural immunity was a more potent shield than vaccines against that variant, California and New York health officials reported on Wednesday.

Protection against Delta was highest, however, among people who were both vaccinated and had survived a previous COVID infection, and lowest among those who had never been infected or vaccinated, the study found.

Nevertheless, vaccination remains the safest strategy against COVID-19, according to the report published in U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The results do not apply to the Omicron variant of the virus, which now accounts for 99.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

“The evidence in this report does not change our vaccination recommendations,” Dr. Ben Silk of the CDC and one of the study’s authors told a media briefing.

“We know that vaccination is still the safest way to protect yourself against COVID-19,” he said.

For the study, health officials in California and New York gathered data from May through November, which included the period when the Delta variant was dominant.

It showed that people who survived a previous infection had lower rates of COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated alone.

That represented a change from the period when the Alpha variant was dominant, Silk told the briefing.

“Before the Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection,” he said.

In the summer and fall of 2021, however, when Delta became the predominant circulating iteration of the virus in the United States, “surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against the subsequent infection than vaccination,” he said.

But acquiring immunity through natural infection carries significant risks. According to the study, by November 30, 2021, roughly 130,781 residents of California and New York had died from COVID-19.

The analysis did not include information on the severity of initial infection, nor does it account for the full range of illness caused by prior infection.

One important limitation to the study was that it ended before administration of vaccine booster doses was widespread.

Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health, said in an email that the study “clearly shows” that vaccines provide the safest protection against COVID-19 and they offer added protection for those with prior infections.

“Outside of this study, recent data on the highly contagious Omicron variant shows that getting a booster provides significant additional protection against infection, hospitalization and death,” Pan said.

Silk said the CDC is studying the impact of vaccination, boosters and prior infection during the Omicron surge and expects to issue further reports when that data becomes available.

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