|Convergence® Amidst Endemic Covid-19|
After HGA released the Covid-19 safety guidelines for Convergence®, three kinds of questions have come up from folks planning to attend or thinking of attending. 1) why do we have to wear masks? 2) why not require everyone to be vaccinated? 3) why trust the recommendations when this keeps on changing? Ironically, the first two questions are on the opposite side of the issue:
As a retired health care professional doing research and teaching for over 30 years and coming from a very high-risk family (my Mom just turned 100!), I have been following the science and medicine of this pandemic and I would like to offer answers to these questions.
Why do we have to wear masks?
The single most important cause in getting Covid-19 is the virus load that you inhale. We catch the virus from droplets in the air. With just a few viruses, the immune system takes care of them; with lots of viruses, severe disease and even death can result. Inhalation of virus particles can occur whether you are vaccinated or not. We all know of breakthrough infections, people who are vaccinated and even boostered, and get the virus.
Large outbreaks have occurred with large gatherings where there are more virus-ladened droplets, even with the best of air handling.
Masks are the one factor we can do to decrease a possible virus load. Social distancing is great, but not always possible. Think of hallways.
No, it’s not fun to wear masks, but experts have said that this is not over yet; viruses mutate, we could have new outbreaks, and there are other diseases to be cautious about (i.e., bird flu). At the moment, we seem to be migrating from a pandemic to an endemic state, meaning the virus is here to stay. I would be wearing a mask even if HGA wouldn’t require it. It’s for my protection.
Why not require everyone to be vaccinated?
The short answer is: why? I am vaccinated and boostered for my protection. With many people attending, it is quite possible that some have the virus but are totally asymptomatic, whether they are vaccinated or not. It wouldn’t even have to be an attendee, it could be a hotel or convention center staff person. If I get the disease, I am less likely to die because I am vaccinated.
And yes, there are legal reasons, especially in the south, where many states have made it illegal for an entity to require vaccination. What we don’t want is for some person who is not vaccinated to sue HGA because they couldn’t attend!
The information keeps changing, how can I trust it?
I am watching a baseball game and an ad for a new drug appears. How wonderful, I think. What I don’t think about is how many changes that potential drug has undergone to become effective and safe, how may false starts there have been, how many trials, how many reviews, ending with the FDA one.
That evolution of a drug and the understanding of a disease occur behind the scenes, slowly and methodically and well, some may say, boring.
With Covid-19, a lot has been reported on the front page of our newspaper or tablet. As more information was found, our requirements changed. Science is often wrong, but self-correcting. If it weren’t self-correcting, we would still be using the drugs of the last century. What we didn’t see on the front page is the years of research – and failures – that RNA vaccines had undergone. So, yes, the Covid-19 vaccine was relatively fast, but knowledge about RNA vaccines had been amassed over decades.
I hope to see you at Convergence®, maybe even in one of my seminars – vaccinated and masked, we will both be safe.
I would love to see you there!