Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Six Things to Do Regardless of Variant

| Dec. 10, 2021

Variants put the focus back on prevention. We may end up going through the entire Greek alphabet as more variants continue to emerge. This doesn’t mean we’re starting from square one. We’ve learned an incredible amount of information these past 2 years on the virus that causes COVID-19 to know variants don’t defy the laws of physics and magically circumvent our pandemic prevention toolbox. Whether a variant is more transmissible, has the ability to evade any part of our vaccine-induced or infection-induced immunity or causes more severe illness, here are 6 things to do regardless of the variant:

  1. Get vaccinated. The definition of full protection may vary as time goes on. Our 2-dose mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines may end up being a 3-dose primary series with occasional boosters. This can hold true for all COVID-19 vaccines. There may be newer generations of vaccines that offer greater protection or variant-specific boosters. The goal is to have an army of antibodies ready to fight off the virus if exposed.
  2. Get tested. Regardless of vaccination status, get tested whether you become symptomatic or routinely exposed. This ensures that you’re not feeding transmission in your community or spreading the virus unknowingly. Rapid, at-home antigen tests are great surveillance system. Stay home if you’re feeling sick or are positive for the virus.
  3. Mask up inside. Think of masking up indoors akin to a raincoat. Based on local conditions, wear a mask indoors in public spaces when community transmission rises, regardless of your vaccination status. Whether it’s a little viral spread or a viral storm, best to not get wet.
  4. Seek well ventilated spaces. Be mindful ofshared air. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads best in indoor environments. To lower risk, seek well ventilated spaces or open doors and windows to bring in fresh air.
  5. Be mindful of the activities you engage in and with whom. As community transmission levels rise, activities that occur in indoor environments with crowds are riskiest so best to limit or avoid such settings. If you or someone around you are at increased risk for severe illness, be extra cautious to protect their health.
  6. Pick up the call from public health department. Help our public health response by picking up the phone or responding back to any communication you receive from your local health department as they try to prevent larger outbreaks from occurring. We all play a role in preventing larger outbreaks from happening.

While these measures can help protect you regardless of the variant, encourage others to do the same. Bringing down community transmission is a group effort.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Madad, Syra and Katelyn Jetelina.“Six Things to Do Regardless of Variant .” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, December 10, 2021.

The Authors