Dr. Birx on Living with COVID-19 and Its Surges

Margaret Brennan with Face The Nation interviewed Dr. Deborah Birx, the previous administration's COVID-19 response coordinator on how to prepare for, and what to expect with SARS-CoV-2 this summer and going forward https://www.cbsnews.com/video/birx-says-us-should-prepare-for-summer-covid-19-surge-in-south/ . After about two and a half years into the pandemic, we have close to one million deaths with COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations rising in the U.S. How does the country live with this disease with mask and social distancing mandates lifted?

The responsibility now falls on individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones with available technologies and methods to mitigate infection and transmission risks. Dr. Birx explained that she assesses her COVID-19 risks daily because she continues to work while caring for a 93 year old parent, and visits with her unvaccinated grandchildren under 5 years of age. She was completely masked at a recent May 2022 Correspondence Dinner in which all attendees must be boosted and tested negative within 24 hours. Regardless, her assessment estimated about 15-20 people infected, thus the need to mask for the event.

Dr. Birx emphasized the importance of using COVID-19 data within the past 2 years to predict surges, especially data from South Africa as they are great at testing and variant sequencing. Previous data collected indicated that immunity from vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wane within 4 to 6 months. This gave rise to summer surges in the south and winter surges starting from northern states that were accelerated by winter holidays and transmitted throughout the country.

Summer and winter surges are expected this year, but there are much better therapeutics to handle the increase. The United States is definitely in a better place now than when this pandemic began. To successfully live with COVID-19, it is wise to always assess infection risks in any environment, test regularly, be current on vaccinations, and wear masks in high risk areas to protect oneself and loved ones.