This week’s issue features our proposal for a national COVID-19 alert-level framework for the United States. An alert-level system can inform communities about the local risk of COVID-19 and empower them to stay safe. These systems must be implemented locally, taking into account the unique economic, political and social context. When implemented effectively, an alert-level system can reduce COVID-19 transmission and save lives.
This issue also explores the risk of COVID-19 transmission associated with restaurants and a review of the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test. We also explore the latest science on household transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the impacts of the vaccine on a Spring 2021 wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths and an evaluation of cloth masks to protect the wearer.
COVID-19 has the upper hand as we see a surge in cases across the U.S.—but our future is in our hands. Vaccines are here, but they will not be available for many of us until well into 2021. Until then, we need to double down on protection protocols—as Chancellor Merkel said: patience, discipline, solidarity. When we all wear masks and take action to fight COVID-19, everyone is safer.
I hope you find this resource useful and are staying safe during the holidays and into 2021!
All the best,
Dr. Tom Frieden President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital Strategies
*Please note there will be no Weekly Science review for two weeks. We will resume the week of January 11.*
COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Resources
Communication with the public in advance of the phased introduction of COVID-19 vaccines is crucial to ensure that people get the right message at the right time and feel confident about their decision to get vaccinated. That is why Resolve to Save Lives created select resources, and curated a library of others, to support communicators, public health officers, health care providers and anyone else looking for support designing strategies for evidence-based COVID-19 vaccine communications. The resources will be updated regularly to provide timely guidance.
Alert-level systems should form a core component of effective COVID-19 preparedness and response. We propose that the United States introduce a national framework for a COVID-19 alert-level system that can be adapted and implemented locally. An alert-level system can inform communities about the local risk of COVID-19 and empower them to stay safe. If designed effectively and linked to guidance on public health and social measures appropriate for different disease transmission levels, an alert-level system can prevent a scenario where the burden of COVID-19 is so high that the most disruptive mitigation measures become necessary to relieve an overloaded health care system. An alert-level system should be built on a solid base of scientific evidence that can be applied nationally. However, alert-level systems must be implemented locally, taking into account the local economic, political and social context. When implemented effectively, an alert-level system can reduce COVID-19 transmission and save lives.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, much information has been collected on how the virus behaves in different environments (e.g., indoor vs. outdoor). This information can be used to better assess the risk associated with different behaviors and activities and to advise the public on what steps to take to mitigate risk and what settings to avoid to minimize risk. Among the various activities and behaviors, indoor restaurant dining is often cited as a higher-risk activity. This is for a variety of reasons that come together to form what one researcher has called a merging of “core behavioral risk factors,” which lead to increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
A recent meta-analysis of household secondary transmission of SARS-COV-2 found that 16.4% of those living with someone with COVID-19 tested positive for COVID-19. The manuscript included 54 studies covering 77,758 people, 10 of which included family rather than household contacts (17.4% of family contacts were infected with COVID-19). In the subset of studies that reported attack rates for both children and adults, adults in the household were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 (28.3%; 95% CI: 20.2 – 37.1%) compared to children (16.8%; 95% CI: 12.3 – 21.7%).
GHC3 is a division of the Center for Global Health Innovation (CGHI). The Center for Global Health Innovation is an Atlanta based 501(c)3 organization that was launched in 2019 to bring together diverse Global Health, Health Technology and Life Sciences entities to collaborate, innovate and activate solutions to enhance human health outcomes around the world. At its core, CGHI will orchestrate programs that promote cross discipline cooperation to strengthen capabilities, accelerate problem solving and respond to global health crises. The Center will continue to support its subsidiary organizations, Georgia Bio and Georgia Global Health Alliance and is standing up a permanent Global Health Crisis Coordination Center to bringing to bear the best private sector and public sector capabilities and experience in times of need.