Thursday 4 March 2021

“It is foreseeable that 2021 will be like an extension of 2020”: UNA epidemiologist

After vaccination against Covid-19, current health measures will continue says UNA epidemiologist

QCOSTARICA – Despite the arrival of the vaccine against Covid-19 in Costa Rica, 2021 will be like “an extension of 2020”, according to Juan José Romero, coordinator of the Master’s Degree in Epidemiology at the Universidad Nacional (UNA) – National University.

After vaccination against Covid-19, current health measures will continue says UNA epidemiologist Juan José Romero

“In a certain way, 2021 would be very similar to 2020, in relation to the number of cases by Covid-19; a situation that could continue until a significant level of vaccination is reached, which will most likely take all of this year and perhaps part of 2022,” said Romero.

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The expert explained that if risk groups continue to be vaccinated to avoid the severity of the disease and deaths, it is likely that there will be significant changes in the decrease in hospitalizations and deaths, but not necessarily in the number of cases.

“Against this background, teleworking, blended or mixed classes, health restrictions could be less intense, but will continue to exist, which will depend on the flattening of the curve,” said Romero.

Given that the vaccination of seniors is expected within the first six months of the year, it is recommended not to lower our guard and continue to comply with health protocols, especially with adults who live in their family bubble and not have received the doses.

“In the case of older adults, the ideal is that they have received both doses, as this will generate, in their family circle, some mental freedom and relief. In addition, the older adult will have less stress when leaving home to shop or exercise, as well as helping to have more flexible mobility within the home,” added Romero.

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“During 2021 we will continue with current sanitary measures and it is very likely that campaigns will be carried out to maintain some of them after vaccination, since it is not known for how long the vaccine protects; until now, there are some who say six or eight months, but it is not accurate,” said the specialist.

“I do not think that the old normal will return, because only until we reach about 60% or 70% of some degree of global immunity in people, will we have a new reality that somewhat resembles the previous one,” he added.

On the other hand, vaccines will not provide immunity to all vaccinated people, since they have been reported to have about 90% vaccine efficacy; that is, people still vaccinated became ill.

“We would expect a reduction in the number of new infections towards the end of the second half of 2021, as long as non-pharmacological measures such as mobility restrictions, physical and social distancing, hand hygiene and the use of masks are not omitted”, Romero reiterated.

The Ministry of Health reported Friday the country has an accumulated 184,185 cases of Covid-19 in the country, of which 161,070 are Costa Rica and 23,117 foreigners.

The number of recovered has slowed down in the past couple of weeks, as of Friday totaling 141,374 (76.8%), while the active cases has risen to 40,397 (21.9%).

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The total number of deaths associated with Covid-19 is now 2,416: 1,509 men and 907 women, ranging in age from 2 to 101 years of age.

Hospitalizations, a major concern of Health officials, has not experienced the spike expected, with 558 people in hospital reported on Friday, of which 245 are in intensive care, ranging in age from 12 to 95 years.



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