In a paper shared on LinkedIn last month, Dr. Stefanos Kales, a professor at Harvard Medical School, suggested that it’s time to “move on” from the COVID-19 pandemic!
More precisely, he thinks this should be the case for those who are young and healthy.
As far as he is concerned, “Covid-19 is not a serious threat, only a nuisance that impedes schooling, work and travel. Once Omicron peaks, subsequent variants are likely to be even more mild. We badly need to allow the general public, the young, in particular, to get back to normal life.”
Instead, he would like for the COVID-19 efforts to strictly focus on “the vulnerable” and not the entire population.
Kales goes on to stress that the current pandemic protocols that tend to ignore the economy are a “big mistake.”
“Many reasoned, outspoken and honest scientists have been making the point that Covid-19 is moving rapidly from a ‘pandemic’… to an ‘endemic’ respiratory infection comparable to the common cold and flu,” he says, adding that it is time for some of the COVID measures to be reconsidered.
Kales says that with the exception of immunocompromised people, unvaccinated ones, and the elderly, COVID is not really a health threat but more of a “logistical nightmare.”
With that being said, he believes that testing healthy, asymptomatic people should stop or at least be dramatically reduced as it’s supposedly a method “doomed to fail.”
“As expressed by another physician I recently heard on the radio, it is like trying to stop a snowstorm by catching every snowflake, rather than keeping the roads open by plowing.”
Kales also pointed out that widespread testing, be it for work or travel reasons, makes it much more difficult for vulnerable and ill people to get those tests done instead.
“We would never screen well people for the cold or flu virus. Let’s stop testing healthy kids in schools and in universities. At this point, the teachers, faculty and staff have had the opportunity to be vaccinated and thus, their risk is minimal as well.”
Of course, he was not talking about people who actually present COVID symptoms.
No matter what one’s vaccination status really is, they should still have access to testing, be diagnosed effectively, and receive effective medication.
Furthermore, those who are sick, “whether it’s Covid or a cold,” should self-isolate for at least 5 days.
Kales mentions that many of the current pandemic protocols are from medical professionals focusing on infectious diseases and not on public health.
“Public health is a balance,” he mentions.
He also stressed that he’s still a big supporter of vaccinations even though they can do little to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant.
“The vaccines … they’re excellent. They’ve saved many lives, and they’ve prevented many hospitalizations and much illness,” Kales said, adding that in spite of this, vaccinated people are still scared about getting infected with COVID.
In reality, however, he thinks those inoculated overestimate the danger that the virus poses to them.
At the same time, there are others who still think there is a good reason for exercising caution even at this point of the pandemic.
For instance, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, Dr. Eric Topol, took to Twitter not too long ago to say that the idea that COVID “will evolve to a less virulent strain may exemplify wishful thinking.”
In fact, Kales’ opinions differ quite a lot from the ones of many in the medical community.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the top infectious disease expert in the United States just said earlier this week that the country may be heading into another phase of the pandemic but stressed that it’s still far away.
Fauci told The Daily, a The New York Times published podcast that “I have said, and continue to say, currently we’re still at war with the virus. We have 2,300 deaths per day, 156,000 hospitalizations, and we have the danger of new variants occurring.”
In the meantime, Kales is convinced that the numbers of people hospitalized for COVID-19 have been overestimated.
He pointed to an “Incidental Covid-19 Report” that was published earlier this week by the Massachusetts Department of Health.
It showed that 49.5 percent of the COVID patients in the state were hospitalized because of “primary” infections, while 50.5 percent tested positive after being hospitalized for different reasons.
“With all due respect, I do think it’s time to move on,” Kales said.
Furthermore, he also made it clear he does not believe testing and vaccinations should be required for travel as he believes they are not efficient measures for preventing the spread of the virus.
He pointed out that many other countries are moving away from such restrictions.
Sure enough, only in the past week, Aruba and Puerto Rico announced that they are dropping testing requirements for some travelers that have been vaccinated.
Travel industry groups, including airlines, asked the Biden administration on Wednesday to drop testing requirements for inbound vaccinated travelers to the US.
The head of the immunotherapy laboratory at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, Professor Cyrille Cohen agrees that vaccination restrictions for travel are starting to make “less and less sense” as well.
However, he also said that due to the fact that the unvaccinated are more at risk of developing severe illness, countries might still want to keep such measures in place in order to prevent high numbers of hospitalizations, especially if their medical systems are already strained as it is.
He stressed that he does not believe COVID-19 is endemic at this point in time and that he supports all the current testing requirements for international travel “until the situation stabilizes.”
“We know that variants are still developing around the world. We do believe that the omicron may help transitioning from [a] pandemic state to an endemic state. But until that happens, I think we should continue with testing before getting on the plane,” Cohen shared.