Pandemic experts discuss the BA.2 variant of Omicron at Ethnic Media Services Press Briefing
According to the experts gathered by Ethnic Media Services, the second to last Covid-19 variant, BA.2 of Omicron, accounts for half of the new coronavirus infections in New York and New England, and Covid-19 infections are almost 35% in California and other parts of the United States. Who is most at risk of infection? All of them agree that the original Omicron variant, the Delta variant, and the BA.2 variant are equally violent. But it is Latinos who are most at risk of infection, hospitalization and even death. That is why a second booster of the vaccine is highly recommended for those over 50 years of age.
The four renowned experts encouraged everyone to “get vaccinated, please, especially Latinos,” in view of the danger of relaxing precautionary and protective measures, and because BA.2 is the most contagious version as of April 8, the day of the experts’ press briefing.
The most contagious? Well, it seems that this is no longer the case, because two days after the briefing by Ethnic Media Services, the new XE version has come to light, and threatens to multiply the infectious power of the virus and the number of infections. However, it seems that the symptoms it causes are less severe. The XE variant of SARS-CoV-2 was discovered in January in the United Kingdom, and it is still too early to give a definitive opinion on its behavior and effects. Days before it was announced, scientists Ben Neuman, Dali Fan, Manisha Newaskar and Daniel Turner-Lloveras spoke about BA.2.
Dr. Ben Neuman, professor of biology and chief virologist at the Global Health Research Complex at Texas A&M University, says, “BA.2 and Omicron most likely came from a person who had not been vaccinated. And this could have happened in Africa.... When we vaccinate, we can prevent these things.” “The immunity we build from vaccines is temporary. It has a window and it’s like a little timer that ticks one tick at a time, until you’re no longer protected.” Because of this, “getting vaccinated is the only thing to do,” Neuman says. Dr. Dali Fan, clinical professor of Health Sciences at UC Davis, says that “those who are vaccinated are more protected (...) A booster shot is highly recomended.”
Dr. Manisha Newaskar, a pediatric pulmonologist at Stanford Children’s Health Hospital, comments that “there are still some infections in children. But not to the extent that we were seeing in the January to February period. What’s coming is unknown and we must be prepared. There are other vulnerable populations. Children who are immunocompromised, who are on cancer chemotherapy or who have some other type of disease, such as obesity or uncontrolled asthma, where they cannot generate an immune response.”
Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras, co-founder of the Latino Coalition Against Covid-19 and volunteer physician for the Covid-19 Vaccine Education in Detention program, states that “the Latino population has borne the brunt of this pandemic. Latinos represent 40% of California’s population, but 70% have had Covid infections. In contrast, non-Latino whites represent 36% of the state’s population, 24% of confirmed cases and 34% of Covid deaths (...) Only 64% of Latinos have received at least one vaccine, 74% for the non-Latino white population.”
“The numbers are not complete when we look at vaccination rates in ICE detention centers. However, we know that many of these facilities have refusal rates as high as 30% to 40%. This is because they have no one to ask questions. One of the most important things when looking at marginalized groups is access to trusted messengers, but these are not allowed in ICE detention centers.”
“With the cuts in federal funding for treatment, testing, and vaccinations, Latinos will likely see an already unfair situation worsen. Legal status should never be used to exclude immigrants from assistance.”
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