University of São Paulo: Given the new variants, testing is more effective than bans, says expert

The first infections by the omicron variant in Brazil brought fear and uncertainty to the population. In an interview with Jornal da USP on Ar 1st Edition, infectologist Álvaro Furtado Costa, from the Hospital das Clínicas of the USP School of Medicine, shares the necessary safety measures to deal with the new strain.

The infectologist indicates testing as an important strategy to stop the spread of the virus. In turn, banning the entry of travelers from Africa, the continent on which the omicron variant was identified, is not as effective. “We need to be careful not to encourage xenophobic behavior towards African countries. The control of omicron must be carried out, but not with prohibitions, since the virus currently circulates in five continents”, emphasizes Costa.

Likewise, the use of masks is an effective measure to avoid contamination and tends to last, says the doctor. “There is a false illusion that the suspension of mandatory masks is equivalent to the end of the risk of infection. In reality, in a globalized world and without good border control, the introduction of new variants is constant, and disease containment plans should include the maintenance of preventive measures”, he says.

Vaccination also plays an important role in controlling the omicron strain. “The vaccine does not prevent you from catching the virus, but rather from developing a serious case and dying”, warns the infectious disease specialist. So far, no deaths have been registered as a result of the new variant, which, according to Costa, is due to advances in immunization throughout the world: “Around 75% of the Brazilian population is vaccinated with the first dose, and it is crucial to receive also the second dose and the booster, to obtain an improvement in the immune response. Our individual and collective health depends on it”, he concludes.

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