- In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the TAG Risk Matrix and potential variant impact on the current downward trend of the virus. Read more here.
- Recently the WHO arrived in China to understand the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. You can watch the WHO Video briefing (Twitter). It is “extremely unlikely” that the coronavirus came from a lab in China. Instead, Peter Ben Embarek, PhD, who led the WHO team in China, announced that “an intermediary host species is the most likely” cause of the virus.
- Europe’s oldest person, a French nun, has survived COVID and will celebrate her 117th birthday.
- Photo ops with three of Serbia’s officials, including the prime minister, internal affairs, and health minister, helped reassure the Serbian population about the safety of vaccines and refocus the campaign on health. Each official was given a different vaccine. Their vaccination campaign, focused on health, is what has made it possible for Serbia to do well with vaccinations. – https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55931864
- Tokyo's Olympic committee (Olympic Summer Games) has released its COVID-19 playbook with plans to test athletes every 4 days.
Recommendations for Industry
U.S. Continues Downward Trend – But Awaits Potential Variant Impacts
As the TAG matrices show (below), we’re continuing to see some very encouraging trends in reduced COVID-19 cases and transmission. However, while the U.S. is doing very well at this point with numbers coming down, it is important to realize that the global variants have not yet become dominant strains in the U.S. So, we need to (as we have so repeatedly said) be very careful and continue all protective measures, continue to get and encourage workers to get vaccinated as soon as your state allows, and continue educating your workers on all things COVID.
While some may be feeling “COVID-fatigue" with numbers coming down, one only need reference the continued and stringent lockdowns in the UK because of the presence of variants that are seemingly more transmissible to realize the importance and value of avoiding another surge in cases in the US. According to a BBC report, those lockdown rules include: “People must stay at home and only go out if you have ‘a reasonable excuse.’ You are not to meet people socially unless you live together or form a support bubble. People breaking these rules can face fines, including an £800 ($1,108) penalty for those attending house parties of more than 15 people – and a £10,000 ($13,850) fine for the organizers.” We don’t want the U.S. to have to go back into our “bubbles”!
TAG Matrices. Based on TAG’s matrices since last week:
- The Government Stringency Index is 46 this week. This is down from 47 last week, and from 48 the previous week. This slow decrease can also be seen in the states that are open or closed. Two (2) states’ (Oregon and New Mexico) businesses are mostly closed while thirteen (13) states’ (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) businesses are in mixed opening stages.
- Twelve (12) states are in the Highest-Risk Quadrant (Outbreak Index > 50) (Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, and Table 1). This is down from 15 last week. States in the High and Highest-Risk Quadrants are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia.
- Fifteen (15) states have a TPR ≥10% and a case rate ≥ 25/100K people (Table 2). This is down from 18 states last week. This indicates that testing may not be adequate to fully characterize the true severity of the outbreak in the states. On the other hand, 17 states have a TPR < 10% and a case rate≥ 25/100K people indicates adequate testing that is likely finding most symptomatic cases of illnesses. This is up from 10 last week. Seventeen (17) states have a TPR<10% and a case rate < 25/100K.
In Case You Missed It
- In Mondays’ Recommendations for Industry, we discussed the importance of businesses staying updated on vaccine availability for employees and not let up on any of the basic controls and protective behaviors [Read More].
- The FDA has scheduled its meeting to review Johnson & Johnson’s EUA for COVID-19 vaccine (Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)) for Feb. 26, 2021.
- In Friday’s Recommendations for Industry, we discussed what to do if a person exhibits symptoms after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Read More.
- The United Kingdom has put $9.6M into a study that will look into the effects of mixing vaccine types for those vaccines that require two doses with hopes that it may create a more flexible immunization program. Despite this, in the U.S., TAG and the CDC do not recommend this until further studies are conducted.
- The CDC is tracking the number of identified variant cases throughout the US. However, these numbers may be underestimated.
- Some people may still test positive after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Why is that? This can be due to a few different reasons including:
- There is a lag between vaccination and protection.
- Vaccination prevents most, but not all disease.
- Vaccination prevents disease, but infection, it's unclear.
- Vaccines do not work retroactively – if you have been ill before and didn’t know it, you may still test positive!
- The variant question