Reassuringly, older, non-expired tests do still seem to be picking up new variants of the virus (although it’s worth bearing in mind that we don’t know how future variants might evolve). But they’ve never been 100% accurate, and they still aren’t. (Antonio reviewed a few of the tests back in 2021 and had mixed results.)
A study published a couple of days ago found that symptomatic people should really take two tests, 48 hours apart. And people who think they might have been infected but don’t have symptoms should test three times.
A couple of months ago, the WHO declared that covid was no longer a public health emergency of international concern. Which sounds great, until you realize it’s because it is now “an established and ongoing health issue.” Oh, and it’s still a pandemic.
There can still be huge spikes in case numbers, like last winter, when the WHO recorded over 44 million cases on December 19. And while deaths have thankfully declined, they do still happen. The most recent data we have suggests that 497 people died of covid in the week ending July 3. Deaths were much higher in January of this year, with 20,000 to 40,000 every week. Again, those are just the recorded covid deaths. The real numbers are likely to be higher.
Personally, I’m not as worried about covid-19 as I was during the early days of the pandemic. That’s partly because I’m fully vaccinated and have already had covid at least twice. I’m also fortunate enough not to have a condition that makes me vulnerable to severe disease.
But the elephant in the room is long covid—another hotly contested topic. (There has been a particularly intense debate surrounding long covid in children, as I covered here.) The condition continues to cause lasting pain and suffering to an unknown but significant number of people. Scientists believe it’s possible to develop the condition after any infection with the coronavirus.
So I’m keeping my unexpired tests for now, just in case.
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mRNA vaccines helped us through the pandemic. But they could also help defend against many other infectious diseases, offer universal protection against flu, and even treat cancer, as I covered in a piece exploring what’s next for this technology.