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Knowledge is Power – Do You Know Your COVID-19 Risk Level?

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Since May of 2021, vaccines have been available to every American, and now nearly 50% of the population is vaccinated. We’re definitely making big strides toward finally beating this pandemic and achieving herd immunity, but there is still a long way to go. 

Now that local governments are relaxing the rules regarding social distancing and face masks, many people are settling into a new level of comfort that feels much more normal than anything we’ve experienced in the past year. However, this lax attitude is potentially the cause of a 20% increase in COVID cases as recently as March 2021. 

While vaccines remain the most powerful tool in suppressing the spread of the virus, no vaccine is a 100% perfect solution. We don’t yet know whether or not vaccinated individuals are still able to spread COVID-19, and truth be told, viral mutations are coming along very quickly. In fact 1 in 3 epidemiologists predict that first generation vaccines will be rendered ineffective against widespread viral mutations by 2022. They also agree that 70-85% of the population will need to be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to occur, and even then, it will take months for that to be accomplished. 

With all this in mind, it’s clear that vaccines alone are not going to completely solve the problems we’re facing, but there is a solution that can be paired with vaccinations to get us where we want to be. 

Pairing individual risk assessment with vaccinations could potentially be the key to moving beyond the COVID virus for good. 

From the start of 2020, we’ve recognized that certain individuals were at greater risk of contracting a severe form of the disease. Some of the factors that increase risks are cancer, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, heart conditions, Alzheimer’s & dementia, liver disease, diabetes, obesity, immunocompromised, and pregnancy. Not every individual with these conditions will respond the same to the virus, but it’s important to understand the risk category each person falls under in order to take necessary precautions and to be treated with greater accuracy if we should contract the disease. 

The problem is that 1 in 4 adults could be incorrectly categorized for their risk levels, but there’s a solution to that as well. There are now at-home risk assessment test kits available to get an accurate view of personal risk levels. The kit considers 16 comorbidities and genetic markers, and improves risk prediction by 25% over the standard model. 

If individuals know their own risk levels, they have greater control over their own health. That means that, while some precautions can be lifted for the general population, individuals at greater risk can decide how much risk they’re willing to take and can do their part to continue with more strenuous precautions like social distancing and avoiding large crowds. 

Giving individuals the knowledge and power to decide what precautions are right for them will likely increase compliance with recommended precautions and will then go farther in suppressing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and any mutations that continue to develop. 

Having vaccines is a powerful tool, but we all must continue to do our part to fully win this war. 

CEO of Penske Media Group. Experienced Content Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the newspaper industry. Spoken on stages around the globe - NYU, US Embassy, P&G Toronto, and much more.

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