More than 18 months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned the best ways to prevent the continued spread of the virus, which therapies and medications effectively improve clinical outcomes for patients who test positive for COVID-19. We’ve also learned which behaviors are still a good idea (like masking and social distancing) and which ones might have been unnecessary (like wiping down grocery bags.) Every day we learn more about how to manage the pandemic; here are five things we’ve learned in the last year and a half.
- Vaccines work
Early on in the pandemic, our best tools for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 were masking and social distancing. Now, with the advent of approved vaccines, we know that all three of the available vaccines in the U.S. effectively prevent severe illness. Vaccines are the single best intervention for reducing the spread of COVID-19. And while some individuals who are fully vaccinated may still get COVID-19, the vaccine protects them from serious illness. To learn more about the vaccines visit our Vaccine 101 page. To find a vaccine provider near you and schedule an appointment visit Vaccines.gov.
- How to better treat COVID-19
Scientists and researchers continue to study and test therapies and medications to find solutions to treat COVID-19. Interventions that have proven effective range from traditional therapies like steroids and oxygen, to cutting-edge technologies like monoclonal antibody treatment. These therapies have been shown to help you recover from COVID-19 faster and prevent serious outcomes such as hospitalization and death.
- Even people without symptoms can be infected with and transmit COVID-19
Just because someone isn’t displaying symptoms of COVID-19 doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Some studies now indicate the possibility that asymptomatic people are the most likely source of a majority of infections. Even if you don’t feel ill, following the practices we are all familiar with such as practice good hygiene of handwashing and covering coughs, wear a mask in public if you are unvaccinated, and social distancing can help reduce the chances that you could unknowingly transmit the virus.
- Some people have symptoms for months
Most people who contract COVID-19 get better within two weeks, while others can have symptoms for up to six weeks. However, about 10 percent of people who contract COVID-19 develop what’s referred to as “long COVID.” These cases can take between three and nine months to recover fully.
- COVID-19 Affects Kids Differently
Most children are unvaccinated and therefore more likely to get COVID-19. Some children may be asymptomatic, meaning they show no symptoms such as a fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, or tiredness. In contrast, others who are positive for COVID-19 and experience symptoms will have good outcomes and avoid serious illness. Yet, while it is extremely rare, parents or caregivers should be aware of the warning signs of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a serious disease that can affect some children who get sick with COVID-19. Masks and vaccines can help prevent kids from getting infected and passing that infection to others, especially those at high risk for infection.
To learn more about COVID-19, including FAQs, information on testing and treatment, where to find a vaccine, and to stay informed, visit COVID19.tn.gov.