Good news on several fronts.
First, it appears that the most recent wave of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. has begun to decline. The BA.5 infection wave, which has been with us since early May, has finally begun to peak. While there are still many infections, which have been difficult to quantify due to lesser reporting standards, there appeared to be many fewer hospitalizations, severe infections and deaths compared to prior waves.
Once the new booster vaccine is available, we could be headed towards a yearly shot similar to influenza vaccines. Also, if the drop in infections continues, it will particularly help with the return to school this fall.
In this regard, the second bit of good news is that a recent publication suggests schools will not serve as a source of new COVID-19 infections if students and teachers are vaccinated.
The study in the medical journal JAMA suggests that classroom instruction last fall with universal vaccination and appropriate use of masks does not lead to COVID-19 transmission, even without 6-foot physical distancing.
In-class infection was assessed by measuring the genetic virus similarities between student infections last fall for all potential in-class infection transmission pairings at Boston University. More than 600,000 polymerase chain reaction tests were conducted in all students throughout the semester, with only 896 tests (0.1%) showing detectable SARS-CoV-2.
The results indicated that for more than 140,000 in-person class events in a total student population of 33,000, only 9 instances of potential in-class transmission were identified, accounting for 0.0045% of all classroom meetings.
This suggests students should be vaccinated for COVID-19 and fully back in class this fall!