As the number of Omicron cases increases, it is time to recalculate the COVID “risk budget”: NPR

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Do I still need to be “at home” to stay safe?

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Do I still need to be “at home” to stay safe?

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Two years after this pandemic, there were some problems, such as wearing masks and washing hands frequently in the crowd.

Vaccines and boosters are here. Tests are more available — although in some parts of the country it may still be difficult to find a quick test.

Still, the much more infectious variant of Omicron disrupted the COVID routine. The situation seems to be changing rapidly and it is difficult to determine which activities are safe on a particular day.

According to Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, it may be time to create a new “risk budget.”

Comparison of risk and reward

Wen says the idea is to think of risk as cumulative.

“Many people may misunderstand that if they’re doing something dangerous about COVID, they should be vigilant and do everything else, but in reality it’s exactly the opposite.”

Think of it like a regular budget. There is only a certain amount of risk to spend, so choose the one you want to prioritize.

“Choosing one that is of great value to you may actually need to reduce other aspects of risk in your life,” Wen said. “For example, a family reunion flying around the country and meeting relatives who haven’t seen each other for two years doesn’t mean you should go to a bar or nightclub.”

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Restaurants needed to adapt to the ever-changing requirements and risks of COVID.

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Restaurants needed to adapt to the ever-changing requirements and risks of COVID.

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According to Wen, a person’s risk budget depends on his situation. People who are fully vaccinated and boosted and who do not have a high risk of COVID (such as children under the age of 5 or people with immunodeficiency) may find it more comfortable to go to the gym or indoor restaurant. Hmm.

However, people with chronic illness have a more limited risk budget.

So how do you calculate this risk?

But part of the difficulty in creating your own budget is that when things are in flux, humans aren’t particularly good at calculating risk.

“That’s why this is a particularly dangerous time,” says Gaurav Sri, a computational neuroscientist at San Francisco State University who is studying how humans make decisions.

“Human beings are tuned to make stability decisions. We are not accustomed to the rapid changes in the circumstances around us, and it takes time to adapt.”

Not all choices are based on reason and rationale, as humans also have a habit of clouding decisions with other factors.

“Emotions, habits and other motives are certainly highlighted, so I think it’s good to recognize the fatigue that many people are feeling when thinking about our decisions during this time.” Suri said.

His advice: Take the time to immerse yourself in this new context, acknowledge the emotions you are feeling, and accept that there are still risks.

When those things happened, he said you would have a better chance of making informed choices about risk.

“This allows us to maximize this value of decision making and bring to the fore the part that maximizes its utility,” says Sri.

From existential threats to manageable risks

Both Sri and Wen emphasize that accepting the risk does not mean looking for a COVID infection.

“It’s basically not the best thing we should do to just get a COVID and be exposed to it, and basically having a pox party,” Wen said. “I understand where this comes from. People are so tired that we are now in the third year of this pandemic.”

“”[But] There are actual results. It could be a long COVID. It also has the potential to spread it to others. “

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Flying to visit your family may be part of your risk budget, depending on your situation.

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Flying to visit your family may be part of your risk budget, depending on your situation.

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Suri agrees and says there is another way of thinking about it.

“The decision we are facing is that we must take appropriate steps to protect ourselves as much as possible and continue to do what we want to do, and there is a reasonable answer to that particular question. I think, “said Suri.

And he adds that the fact that we are in a better place can reassure people and that most people are at less risk than they were a year ago.

“The new challenge is to recognize the risks that exist, recognize the fatigue we face, adjust it, and survive this dangerous time to come,” he said.

That is the emotion that Wen supports.

“I believe we can see the end of the pandemic, and that doesn’t mean that COVID-19 will be gone by the end of the pandemic,” she said. “But rather, it’s a minor because we can change COVID from an existential emergency to something we can deal with, and … the majority of us can live with it. It’s not the basis of all decisions, it’s the hassle of our lives. “

As the number of Omicron cases increases, it is time to recalculate the COVID “risk budget”: NPR

Source link As the number of Omicron cases increases, it is time to recalculate the COVID “risk budget”: NPR

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