Delaware Practices Prevention

As I write this, on 24 August 2021, Delaware has documented 117,051 cases of covid-19, resulting in 1,854 deaths, indicating a case fatality rate of 1.5%. This is much lower than earlier case fatality rates, reflecting how much medical science has progressed in the short time since the virus was discovered. On the other hand, of Delaware’s 2,036 hospital beds, 186, or 9.1%, are occupied by covid-19 patients. Governor John Carney’s office has put into place certain mandates to control this public health emergency. Emergency regulations for testing and vaccination are expected later this month. The most important tools we have are vaccination, testing, and quarantine. 

Vaccine hesitancy is a problem for some individuals, because anti-covid-19 vaccines were seemingly developed so quickly. Actually, the basic technology was in the works for some time, and was fortuitously ready to be tailored for use against covid-19. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use messenger RNA to instruct cells to make the spike protein seen on covid-19 viral particles. This alerts the immune system to attack the spikes, inactivating the virus. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a technique as old as the one attributed to physician Edward Jenner, who in the 18th century discovered that milk maids did not get smallpox. They were immune to smallpox because they caught the harmless cowpox, which taught their immune systems to fight both types of virus. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine employs a harmless virus engineered to carry instructions to human cells to make spike proteins. 

The year of quarantine was a difficult one for everyone, but with testing quarantine can be limited only to those shown to be positive for the virus. And quarantine need last only 10 days. Delaware has the tools. It’s time to use them.

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