Skip to content
 

   

 

AARP Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls

Experts answer your questions related to COVID-19

Bill Walsh: Hello, I am AARP Vice President Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you’d like to hear this telephone town hall in Spanish, please press *0 on your telephone keypad now.

(Instructions in Spanish)

Bill Walsh: AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization, has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. Two years of the coronavirus pandemic have tested our resilience as a nation. COVID has brought economic disruptions, mental health challenges and more than 960,000 deaths nationwide. And while cases and deaths are thankfully on the decline, older adults, who have been particularly hard hit, still have many questions and concerns related to safety guidelines, booster shots and what to expect moving forward. Today, we’ll hear from an impressive panel of experts about these issues and more. We’ll also get an update from Capitol Hill on legislation affecting older Americans. 

If you’ve participated in one of our tele-town halls before, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask your questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, if you’d like to ask a question about the coronavirus pandemic, press *3 on your telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question, and place you in a queue to ask that question live. And if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments.

Hello, if you’re just joining, I'm Bill Walsh with AARP, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re talking with leading experts and taking your questions live. To ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad, and if you're joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can drop your question into the comments section. 

We have some outstanding guests joining us today, including an infectious disease specialist and a misinformation expert. We’ll also be joined by my AARP colleague Jesse Salinas, who will help facilitate your calls today. This event is being recorded, and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up. Again, to ask your question, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member, or if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, place your question in the comments.

Now I’d like to welcome our guests. Thomas Campbell, M.D., is a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Anschutz Medical Campus Multidisciplinary Center on Aging. Welcome back to the program, Dr. Campbell. 

Thomas Campbell: Hi, Bill, it’s great to be on the program. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Bill Walsh: Thanks for coming. We’re also joined by Alex Mahadevan. Alex is the program manager at MediaWise. Welcome back, Alex. 

Alex Mahadevan: Wonderful to be here. I appreciate the opportunity.

Bill Walsh: All right, well let’s get going. And just a reminder, to ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad or drop it in the comments section on Facebook or YouTube. Let’s go ahead and get started. Dr. Campbell, we’re learning much more about COVID after researchers found that those infected, even if not seriously ill, had more instances of heart disease, stroke and blood clots. And there was news this week that even mild COVID can cause reduced brain function. Can you tell us more about this research and the risks? 

Thomas Campbell: Sure. So when we talk about long COVID, Bill, what we’re talking about are symptoms that persist after having a COVID infection, oftentimes for many months after the infection, by other measures, goes away. And these symptoms often include things like difficulty concentrating — often patients refer to it as a brain fog. But they can also include other things like muscle aches, fatigue is also very common. Sometimes a loss of taste or smell persist. What these news studies tell us though is, number one, a study from here in the United States among our veteran population, is that patients who recover from COVID, despite not having many of these symptoms at all, can have other things happen, very important things. Heart disease, like irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, stroke, are all more common in the veteran population after a recovery from a COVID illness. The second study that you mentioned comes out of the United Kingdom. And there what they found was that neurologic symptoms — things like I mentioned, difficulty concentrating, the brain fog-type symptoms — are also a much more common in people after having a COVID illness. And importantly, by doing a serial imaging of the brain with MRI, these researchers were able to identify structural differences in the brain that correlated with COVID and with the post-COVID symptoms. And these structural changes include things like decreased volume of the gray matter in the brain, which kind of explains some of the symptoms related to difficulty concentrating, for instance.

Bill Walsh: Hmm, I wonder if these same risks that you mentioned apply to vaccinated people who have had breakthrough COVID infections. 

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so neither of these two studies that we’ve mentioned included vaccinated people. So the veteran study that I mentioned actually occurred prior to rollout of vaccines. And then the study from the U.K. did not have information about vaccination. So from those two studies, we don’t know much about the effects of vaccination. However, we do know from other studies that vaccination reduces the risk of long-COVID symptoms. So if you have been vaccinated and develop a COVID infection — so a breakthrough infection — your risk of any long-COVID symptoms is about half of what it is for someone who’s been infected without vaccination.

Bill Walsh: Well, you anticipated my next question about long COVID. I was going to ask you who is most affected. I assume it’s people who haven’t been vaccinated, but are there other markers for that? And also what research is needed to help us better understand long COVID. 

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so the other things that we know that are associated with long-COVID symptoms include age. So older individuals are more likely to have long-COVID symptoms than younger individuals. And at least in some studies, female sex was also associated. Long-COVID symptoms is something that we really need to learn a lot more about. We don’t have as much information as we as we need to. And I would point out that here in the U.S., there is just now starting a very large nationwide study to address the issues related to long COVID and get more information. It’s called the Recover Study, and it’s being funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. There’ll be over a hundred sites across all the country. And so if anyone’s interested in contributing, even if you haven’t had COVID, I think they’re enrolling people without COVID as controls. But I’m sure there is a site near you.

Bill Walsh: Okay. Well let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about preventive measures. You know, we’ve all seen changes in masking guidelines around the country. The CDC lifted its masking guidelines, and communities around the country have done the same. Is it time to put masks away for good? I’m wondering in what circumstances do you think people should continue to mask up? 

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so I think in our current circumstance, which is very low rates of new COVID infections nationwide, I think it really is an individual choice. And I think the things that are important would be vaccination status. So if you have not been vaccinated, then you are still at very high risk of getting COVID, as well as getting severely ill from COVID should you get it. So if you haven’t been vaccinated, I would certainly encourage you to continue to mask. Second is that certain conditions, particularly conditions that result in suppression of the immune system. This could be people who have had treatments for cancer, people who have had treatment for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, with medicines that suppress the immune system. Those medicines also interfere with the body’s response to the vaccines, and the response in those individuals is not as good. And so those individuals are not as well protected even though they may have been vaccinated. And so I think those individuals, I would encourage to continue to mask.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Dr. Campbell. Thanks, thanks very much. We’re going to have more questions for you soon. And as a reminder to our listeners, to ask your question, press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad. And we’re going to get to those live questions in a moment. But before we do, I wanted to bring in my AARP colleague Megan O’Reilly, who is a vice president of advocacy. Welcome, Megan.

Megan O’Reilly: Delighted to be here, Bill. 

Bill Walsh: All right. Now, in addition to sharing the most current coronavirus information, we’d like to take a couple of minutes to update our listeners about how AARP is fighting for them on Capitol Hill. Megan, any news to share with us on the advocacy front?

Megan O’Reilly: Yes, there is good news for those with loved ones in nursing homes. Last week, the President announced the need for new important reforms for long-term care facilities. These changes would improve the safety and quality of nursing homes, hold facilities accountable for the care they provide, and make the quality of care and facility ownership more transparent. AARP has been fighting for years to make nursing homes safer, so we’re very pleased to see the changes that will be coming.

Bill Walsh: Well that’s great. We know COVID hit nursing homes particularly hard. Can you talk about what some of the reforms are that are being proposed? 

Megan O’Reilly: Sure. So specifically, under the plan announced, every nursing home would need to provide enough trained staff to provide quality care. We know boosting staffing levels will make a huge difference. Another reform included aims to explore ways to address overcrowding by limiting how many residents can be assigned to a room. Also poor-performing nursing homes would be held accountable for unsafe care. Substandard facilities would need to show improvements or risk losing taxpayer funding. And finally, there’d be greater transparency, so that families can have the information they need to make better decisions for their loved ones. We all want nursing home residents to have the safety and quality of care they deserve.

Bill Walsh: We sure do. Now, in addition to nursing homes, AARP’s biggest fight right now is urging the government to finally take action to lower prescription drug prices. Is that right? 

Megan O’Reilly: Absolutely. We know Americans are paying three times more than what people in other countries pay for the same name-brand prescription drugs. It’s simply unacceptable. We must keep the pressure on and urge the Senate to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs. More than 80 percent of voters across parties support this change, and it would save seniors and Medicare billions of dollars. It’s time for our elected officials to keep their promise to voters and lower prescription drug prices now.

Bill Walsh: Okay. Finally, Megan, if our listeners want to stay on top of AARP’s advocacy news, we have a new webpage highlighting the latest updates and stories, like this segment. The blog is being called Fighting for You.

Megan O’Reilly: Yes. You know, during this election year, it’s important to stay on top of the issues affecting you and everyone age 50 and older. We encourage you to go online and search AARP Fighting for You. That’ll point you to a daily roundup of the latest advocacy news and updates. It’s really a great way to stay informed, and we encourage everyone to check it out. 

Bill Walsh: Okay, that’s AARP Fighting for You. Thanks for being with us, Megan.

Megan O’Reilly: Great, thank you. 

Bill Walsh: All right. Now it’s time to address your questions about the coronavirus pandemic with Dr. Thomas Campbell. As a reminder, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member and share your question live. And if you’d like to listen to this program in Spanish, please press *0 on your telephone keypad now.

(Instructions in Spanish) 

Bill Walsh: I’d now like to bring in my AARP colleague Jesse Salinas, to help facilitate your calls today. Welcome, Jesse.

Jesse Salinas: So glad to be here, Bill. 

Bill Walsh: All right, who is our first caller?

Jesse Salinas: Our first call is actually going to come from YouTube. I’ve got Iwana Mitchell who asks, “I’m 68, I’m fully vaccinated and boosted, but I’m high risk due to underlying medical conditions. Should I still ask my family and friends to take a COVID home test before visiting me?”

Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell, what would you answer to that? 

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, I think that having your family and friends do a COVID home test is probably the highest level of protection that you can get. I would caution, though, that COVID home testing in asymptomatic people — in other words, people who don’t have any symptoms of COVID — may often miss an infection. So it’s certainly not a hundred percent, but that’s probably the best that you can do.

Bill Walsh: Okay. Thank you. Jesse, let’s take another question. 

Jesse Salinas: We’re going to take Jan from California.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Jan. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question. 

Jan: Yes, I was wondering, with this new opening of everything, how the senior seniors — like I’m 80 —how we can traverse the opening, as I’m fairly healthy, been vaxxed and boosted, and trying to have people come visit from out of state and stay with me. And other people come visit my relatives mainly, and going out to dinner. What’s the best way to stay safe, to wear masks when they’re in my house? I’m just not sure how to stay safe, or if we need to just wear masks all the time when we’re around each other until it’s better, because I just don’t really want to get it at my age, even though I don’t have any real health issues.

Bill Walsh: Jan, thanks so much for that question. We are in this kind of tricky in-between period, aren’t we, Dr. Campbell? What would you suggest? 

Thomas Campbell: We are, and, you know, the risk can never be zero unless you totally isolate yourself. It’s kind of analogous, I think, to driving a car: Every time we get in a car, we take a risk that we’re going to be in an automobile accident. We try to do everything we can to minimize that risk. And I think the same can be done with COVID, and it really depends on how much risk someone is willing to take, and age, other underlying health conditions are important factors to consider. As we were discussing with the last caller, testing prior to having visitors in your home could be a way to reduce the risk. Certainly, masking would reduce the risk further, but you have to weigh that against the quality of the visit that you have. So I think it becomes a very individualized decision about how much of these tools that we have to reduce risk we want to employ.

Bill Walsh: All right, thanks so much for that, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, who’s our next caller?

Jesse Salinas: Our next caller is going to be from Don in Virginia. 

Bill Walsh: Hey, Don, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Don: Well, I was just wondering just how long is this masking going to be going on? 

Bill Walsh: Right. Well, I know in the state of Virginia, the masking requirements have been dropping all over the place. Dr. Campbell, is there a point when we’re just not going to have to worry about masks and social distancing at all?

Thomas Campbell: Well, again, as we’ve talked about with the previous callers, I think it’s going to always be an individual decision. I think in terms of the more generalized public health decisions and requirements for masking, I think we will continue to move away from those, and we will see less and less of that. I think that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID, is not going to go away, it’s going to be with us for the rest of our lives. And we will see waves come through just like we see waves of flu and common cold. And again, I think it will be left to the individual to decide how much of these tools they want to use to protect themselves. But I think we will continue to see less and less mandates from our public health officials. 

Bill Walsh: Yeah, I mean, of course in normal times or pre-COVID times, most folks aren’t wearing masks or socially distancing even during flu season. Do you think we’re going to get to that stage with COVID?

Thomas Campbell: Well, I think what we’ve learned is that social distancing and masking prevents not only COVID, but it prevents other respiratory viruses as well. And in the last two years, the flu season has been much milder than it has been usually. So I think we will continue to use these tools, particularly to protect our most vulnerable people. 

Bill Walsh: Okay. Jesse, let’s take another call.

Jesse Salinas: Our next caller, Bill, is going to be Tammy from an 860 area code. 

Bill Walsh: Hey, Tammy, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. Hey, Tammy, go ahead with your question.

Tammy: Hi. Yes, my husband and I both are in our mid-80s, and we have both had two doses of the Moderna vaccine, plus a booster shot. The booster was about six months back. Do we need a fourth dose, and if so, what would be the timing? 

Bill Walsh: Thanks for that question, Tammy. Dr. Campbell, can you talk about that? We’ve had a lot of questions about how many boosters folks are ultimately going to need?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so it’s a very good question, and it’s a question I cannot give you a definite answer on. Currently, people who do not have immuno-suppressing conditions require a total of three doses of an RNA vaccine, like the Moderna vaccine that you received, and the third dose being referred to as the booster dose. Right now, that is all that is recommended for individuals like yourself. Individuals who have a suppressed immune system from an organ transplantation or cancer treatments, et cetera., those individuals do require a fourth dose at this time. Whether otherwise non-immuno-suppressed people will require a fourth dose and immuno-suppressed will require a fifth dose, we don’t know yet. Right now, nationally, we see cases declining, so there’s no urgent reason for people to go out and get a fourth or fifth dose at this time. That may change. It may change because our protection from the booster will decline over time. And it may change with appearance of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So I think we have to pay close attention to those things and guide our recommendations based on those types of information when they become available. 

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks so much, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, let’s go back to the phone lines.

Jesse Salinas: Yep, our next question is going to be from Pam in South Carolina. 

Bill Walsh: Hey, Pam, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question.

Pam: Hello, thank you. My husband had COVID over a year ago and lost his sense of taste and smell. Well he still does not have it back. So I’m wondering, is there anything that can be done, any recommendations on how he could get those senses back? 

Bill Walsh: Hmm, Dr. Campbell, what do we know about that? Is this a case of long-COVID, do you think? And if so, are there any treatments that could help Pam’s husband?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so this does sound like long COVID and persistent loss of taste and/or smell after recovery from COVID is one of the commonly reported symptoms in people who have long COVID. So I do think that that is the explanation. As far as what to do about it, we don’t have treatments for long-COVID at this time, specifically for the loss of taste and smell. I’ve heard anecdotes of people trying to train their smell and taste senses to come back by a sort of stepwise program of various types of odors and tastes. And then also there have been anecdotes of people’s symptoms of long-COVID improving after getting a vaccination. So if your husband hasn’t been vaccinated and boosted, I would encourage him to do that. 

Bill Walsh: And doctor, I’m wondering if you’ve heard instances where those long-COVID symptoms have simply vanished over time? Is it possible that people who don’t, or have lost their sense of taste, will eventually get it back, or do you ...

Thomas Campbell: It absolutely is possible. And that is the case for many patients.

Bill Walsh: Okay, very good. Jesse, let’s go back to the line. Who do we have next? 

Jesse Salinas: Yeah, the next question that also comes from YouTube. We get this question quite a bit, Bill. The question about vitamin D and how vitamin D either helps or doesn’t help with COVID or COVID complications. If we can ask that question, that’d be great.

Bill Walsh: Hmm, Dr. Campbell, what do we know about the effects of vitamin B on COVID and the symptoms? 

Thomas Campbell: Oh, sorry, was it vitamin B or vitamin D?

Jesse Salinas: D, like David. 

Thomas Campbell: Yes, so vitamin D is an important vitamin for resistance to infections, not just COVID, but other infections. So older people often have deficiencies in vitamin D. People who live in northern latitudes where the sun doesn’t shine much in the winter also have deficiencies, because the vitamin D is made in our skin in response to exposure to sunlight. So, number one, what I suggest is that if you haven’t had it done already, that you periodically — once every year, two or three — get a vitamin D level checked as part of your routine health screening. And if you do have low levels of vitamin D, then you should certainly take a vitamin D supplement. If you have normal levels of vitamin D, I’m not aware of any evidence that a vitamin D supplementation would be beneficial.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks so much, Dr. Campbell. And as a reminder to our listeners, press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member and ask your question live. Jesse, who is our next caller? 

Jesse Salinas: Yeah, I’m going to bring Kathy from Connecticut on the line.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Kathy, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. 

Kathy: Hi, thank you. Dr. Campbell, I have a couple of grandchildren under the age of 3 that I'm mostly concerned about. I’m wondering when the vaccine, you think the vaccine might be available to them, and what else can we do? We’re already masking when we’re out. Should we continue doing that? I don’t know what else do to keep these two little ones safe.

Bill Walsh: Yeah. Dr. Campbell?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah. Hi, Cathy. So unfortunately, it’s not been as simple as we had hoped to get a vaccine for young children. You know young children are simply not just small adults. They are very different biologically, and their immune systems are very different. And the studies that have gone on so far, particularly with the Pfizer vaccine, the responses to the vaccine, the levels of antibodies produced in young children have not been deemed to be adequate. So Pfizer is still working to get the right dose for young children. And I do think that that will happen. It’s just taking longer than we had anticipated. In terms of what to do, fortunately, young children tend not to get as ill as adults do when they get COVID. But we should still do everything we can to protect them. Certainly among adults interacting with the children or older children interacting with the children, it’d be important to make sure that everybody is vaccinated. And wearing masks — again, that’s something that can reduce the risk even further, but it’s a question of whether or not it’s necessary in your circumstance to do that. But certainly, if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, even just the sniffles, then it would be important to wear a mask or to avoid contact. 

Bill Walsh: Doctor, I wonder if you have any sense of how far away that vaccine is for very young children. You talked about some of the ongoing research. Do we feel it might be weeks, months, years?

Thomas Campbell: I don’t have any inside information, number one. And just from what I’ve read in press releases and other information that’s come out publicly, I would think that we are several months or more at the very earliest. 

Bill Walsh: Okay, very good. Jesse, let’s go back to the lines. Who do we have next?

Jesse Salinas: Yeah, the next question also comes from YouTube. This is from Kim, who says, “There’s a concern in my community that the COVID testing kits can cause cancer and that weekly testing increases that risk. Is this true?”

Bill Walsh: Well, let me pose this one to Alex Mahadevan. Alex, of course, is the program manager at MediaWise, which does a lot to help people spot misinformation online, including trainings. Alex, can you address that question? 

Alex Mahadevan: Yeah, so that is false. That is totally false. These testing kits do not cause cancer. So you do not need to worry about testing weekly. What I will say is this is what we call, in my industry, a zombie claim. This is a piece of disinformation that has come up constantly ever since people started testing. So, no, you do not have to worry about that.

Bill Walsh: All right. Thanks, Alex. And we’re going to get more insights from Alex a bit later on the program. Let’s go back to the phone lines. Jesse, who do we have up next? 

Jesse Salinas: Our next question is going to be Bernie in Massachusetts.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Bernie, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. 

Bernie: My question’s for Dr. Campbell because I’m a Campbell also. A question I have is regarding the effective monitoring of the drug remdesivir when a person has already been diagnosed as having A-fib in addition to being positive for the virus.

Bill Walsh: So you’re asking, Bernie, about the effectiveness or any health risks?

Jesse Salinas: I think we lost him.

Bill Walsh: Okay. Well, Dr. Campbell, perhaps you can address the use of that particular treatment. 

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, hi, Bernie, nice to meet you and thanks for that question. So remdesivir is an antiviral medication that is used to treat COVID once COVID happens. It’s not used for prevention, it’s only used for treatment. And it can be used both in the inpatient settings — so for people who have to be hospitalized — and it can be used in the outpatient setting for people who have COVID. In the outpatient setting it’s very effective in preventing hospitalization. It has to be given intravenously. And so you would have to go to an infusion center to get it, where you would be monitored very closely. And for prevention of hospitalization in the outpatient setting, it’s three doses given once a day for three consecutive days. In the hospital setting, it’s five doses once a day.

Bill Walsh: Okay, very good, Dr. Campbell. Thanks so much. Jesse, let’s take another call. 

Jesse Salinas: Yeah, we’re going to bring on Blaine from Oregon.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Blaine, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. 

Blaine: Yes, my question concerns how do we actually put any kind of trust and faith in the statistics we’re hearing about how effective the vaccines are when the CDC stopped even counting breakthrough COVID cases way back in May of 2020? So how do we really even know the effectiveness of this stuff, because I’ve also heard the control group were basically persuaded to take the vaccines as well. So where do we stand on understanding this better?

Bill Walsh: Go ahead. I didn’t mean to interrupt you, Blaine.

Jesse Salinas: We might have lost him, Bill.

Bill Walsh: Oh, okay. I’m sorry. So Blaine was asking, how can we trust the statistics, particularly around the effectiveness of the vaccines? 

Thomas Campbell: So, Blaine, there’s two different ways that we’ve evaluated the effectiveness of vaccines. One is in clinical trials, where patients volunteer to be part of a research study. And then in those trials, they were given either vaccine or placebo. And you are correct. In those trials, once it was determined that the vaccines worked really well, the patients who received placebo were offered the chance to get the vaccine, and almost all of them took up that chance and got the vaccine. But the other way that we evaluate vaccine effectiveness is through monitoring the effect of the vaccines as they’ve been used in very large scales, not only across the United States but across the world. And you mentioned the CDC has data on vaccine effectiveness, and in those studies, what they’re comparing is the rate of a COVID infection, the rate of hospitalization, the rate of death in people who chose to get the vaccine versus those who chose not to get the vaccine. And for instance, in the United States, the rate of death is 10 times greater in people who choose not to get the vaccine. Now, the CDC is only one source of information and one source of data, but what’s very powerful is that other studies in other countries, all across the world — the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, South Africa, Israel, countries in South America — they’ve all come to the same conclusion that these vaccines are highly effective. So it’s not just the CDC’s data, it’s worldwide data on hundreds of millions of people.

Bill Walsh: Thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Alex, I wanted to ask you on this question, do you see much online about people questioning the effectiveness of vaccines? 

Alex Mahadevan: Yes, unfortunately, that is one of the biggest pieces of misinformation that we see online. And unfortunately there was a very strong and vocal anti-vaccination minority that was almost preparing for a situation like this. And once the vaccines rolled out, we just saw misinformation after misinformation. And it’s something we are still fighting to this day on the fact-checking side.

Bill Walsh: And Alex, in instances where you see that kind of misinformation, what do you tell people? Do you send them to the CDC website? What other sources are there for people to check it out? 

Alex Mahadevan: Really, the CDC is the first place to send people. I think that that is going straight to the source.

Bill Walsh: Okay. All right, thank you, Alex and Dr. Campbell, and thanks to our listeners for all your questions. We’re going to take more questions shortly. And, as a reminder, if you’d like to get into the queue to ask your question live, press *3, or if you’re on YouTube or Facebook, just drop it into the comments section. Let me turn back to our expert for a moment. Dr. Campbell, last week, the U.S. Health officials laid out a national roadmap to manage COVID-19 going forward. It includes free antivirals as immediate treatment following infection, investing in domestic production, stockpiling tests, and an expedited approval process for vaccines specific to particular variants. Are these preemptive changes designed to focus on a risk of new variants that we might see?

Thomas Campbell: Yes, they are, but they’re also intended to focus on the variants we’ve also seen. So the strategic plan that is outlined has basically four key pillars to it, if you will. One is to do better about protecting against COVID and treating it should it occur. The second is the preparation for new variants. The third is to prevent the economic effects of COVID as well as the educational effects for children. And then the fourth is to lead the effort to provide access to vaccines worldwide. So the questions you’ve asked really pertain to the first two goals, and we can’t predict what the virus is going to do in terms of variation. All we can say is that we have to be prepared for new variants, and we should expect new variants to occur. What we’ve seen with variants so far is that the vaccines still work very well, but only if you’ve had a booster dose. Without a booster dose, they don’t work very well. So if you haven’t had a booster dose, that’s very key to get one. And then second, in terms of treatments are antiviral treatments like remdesivir, as we were talking about earlier. Those still work very well against variants. Variants don’t affect them at all. Although our other group of treatments, called monoclonal antibodies, are affected by variants. And so we’ve had to refine monoclonal antibodies for treating COVID as new variants pop up. And I think we’ll continue to do that in the future, and I think the President’s plan just provides a strategy and a roadmap for doing those things. 

Bill Walsh: I'm curious, Dr. Campbell, if you see any other variants lurking out there that are of concern to you?

Thomas Campbell: Well, the only other variant on the horizon right now is a subvariant of the omicron variant. So the omicron variant that came through the United States in December and January, that one we referred to as BA.1. There is a subvariant called BA.2 that’s very closely related to BA.1 but is even more infectious than BA.1 was. What we’ve really seen that the pattern with variants is that each variant tends to be more infectious than the previous one. So here in the United States, the alpha variant that we had a year ago was more infectious than the original Wuhan strain, and then delta was more infectious than alpha. The BA.1 omicron was more infectious than delta, and now BA.2 is more infectious than BA.1. And we are seeing BA.2 in the United States. It’s a very small proportion right now, but in England, it’s now over 50 percent of cases in England. And I think we will see a similar pattern here. Whether or not there’s a surge in new cases, I don’t anticipate that in the near future, but certainly could happen again when we get into the fall cold and flu season.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Let me switch gears now. We’ve talked a little bit about COVID misinformation and, of course, misinformation continues to undermine public health efforts to end the pandemic. With the pandemic now entering its third year, we’re going to address some misinformation for the next few weeks in a segment we call 4-Minute Fact Check. We’ll ask our expert, Alex Mahadevan, to help debunk misleading claims and understand why misinformation is so problematic. Alex, of course, is from MediaWise, which is in the business of spotting misinformation online and helping consumers spot it as well. MediaWise partners with AARP to help older Americans learn how to sort fact from fiction online. Alex, last week, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, announced an investigation into health misinformation online. What is the scope of this effort, and what does Dr. Murthy hope to learn from it? 

Alex Mahadevan: Well, this is pretty huge. It’s a really wide scope. Dr. Murthy, who I will say has been at the forefront of calling attention to health misinformation since he started really, has formally requested that the big tech companies — your Facebooks, Googles and Twitters, and even e-commerce companies like Amazon — turn over any data and research they have about the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. And that might include the number of people that are reached with, I don’t know, a false post claiming vaccines contain microchips. They’re also asking for a list of specific groups or individuals that have been spreading harmful misinformation. So Murthy and the entire Biden administration is setting up a blueprint for managing COVID-19 in the long term. And that includes preparedness for what misinformation may come about new variants or treatments, or really any type of misinformation about COVID-19 that we haven’t seen already.

Bill Walsh: Okay, let me follow up on that. Now, of course, we’ve seen misinformation for years now online and social media networks on a variety of topics. What tools are available to the Surgeon General to help curb online misinformation? 

Alex Mahadevan: Well, I think it really comes down to education. I think that strongest tool is communicating about the dangers of online misinformation. I think Dr. Murthy has a very big platform, and the best thing he can do is, once he goes through all this data and research and really gets a good idea about the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, really develop a good educational outreach program. What I will say is I think you, the listeners here, have the tools yourselves to curb online misinformation by not sharing it. And really, you can do that very simply. We break it down. Ask yourself these three questions whenever you see anything about COVID-19: Who’s behind the information? Who shared the post? Are they an expert like Dr. Campbell? Did they cite any sources or anything like that? That’s the second question. What evidence do they have? You know, if they didn’t cite any data or research or any evidence, you might not want to share it. And then the last question that we want to arm you with is, what are other sources saying about whatever it is, the poster image or video that you’re seeing. Check out new sources like the Associated Press or go straight to the CDC like we talked about earlier. Read multiple sources. So really, I’m hoping Dr. Murthy can get the education out there. But really the tools are right in your pocket.

Bill Walsh: That’s a great point, Alex. Now the Surgeon General is also seeking information from teachers and health care workers and community organizations. Why is that? What’s the connection there? 

Alex Mahadevan: Well, it’s easy to think about misinformation as sort of an online issue that’s confined to social media, especially for someone like me that, unfortunately, has to spend a lot of time on social media. But really it’s not. It’s not confined to the internet. Falsehoods online lead to real-world dangers. And teachers and health care workers are really on the front lines in confronting the misinformation. They’re hearing from their communities in the real world. You know, doctors and nurses, who’ve already been pushed to the limit during the pandemic, have also had to become de facto fact-checkers. Debunking misinformation about vaccines with their patients — you know, just another added layer of responsibility to the massive amount of responsibility they already have. So I can see that their input and Dr. Murthy’s effort will add a lot more depth to the tech companies’ data and research that will also come in.

Bill Walsh: All right. Now, has there ever been a misinformation investigation like this in the past?

Alex Mahadevan: Well, I’m sure listeners might remember those dramatic scenes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Twitter’s Jack Dorsey testifying before Congress about, you know, misinformation on their platforms, among other things. Last year, President Joe Biden formed a task force that has this long fancy name that I won’t get into, but a task force to investigate disinformation and democracy. But what I will say is Dr. Murthy’s request to tech companies is really sort of the first concrete action that I can remember against health misinformation that I’ve seen, really. And to be clear, to add one little point to that, there doesn’t seem to really right now be any formal penalty if these tech companies don't want to turn over their data about COVID-19 misinformation. But it is a very strong request, and it’s something that I doubt companies will want to ignore. 

Bill Walsh: Okay. Well, Alex, finally, I wonder if there’s any emerging misinformation efforts you want to call our attention to?

Alex Mahadevan: Yes, so right here in my home state of Florida, the surgeon general just recently recommended against vaccinating healthy children for COVID-19 vaccine. And so I want to say I’m seeing a lot of troubling misinformation about kids and vaccines. There are some claims that falsely say that kids are harmed by the vaccine, or may be at risk of myocarditis. Actually kids are more likely to get that from being infected by COVID-19, not being vaccinated. Also, we’re seeing a lot of people distorting facts, distorting data facts, to try to claim that healthy kids aren’t affected by COVID-19. And I got to tell you, there are definitely some overloaded pediatric units that we’ve seen around the country this year that would disagree. And so vaccines in children, misinformation about that may be influencing policy. We continue to see vaccine misinformation. One claim that just popped up recently that was going all around the blogosphere was that people who’ve been vaccinated, are more likely and more susceptible to HIV or AIDS. And this, again, is another thing being pushed by the anti-vaccination crowd. Lastly, I got to say we’ve, since we’ve been talking about masks, I hate to bring it back to Florida, my home state, but recently our governor told the group of kids that masking doesn’t do anything. And while masking is increasingly becoming an individual choice, but it is false to claim that masks do nothing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And I think as we move into this post-mask mandate world, we need to expect a lot more misinformation about masks to circulate.

Bill Walsh: All right, Alex. Thanks so much for those comments. Let’s go back to the phone lines. It’s now time to address more of your questions with Dr. Thomas Campbell and Alex Mahadevan. As a reminder, press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member and ask your question live. Jesse, who do we have up next? 

Jesse Salinas: So I have a question probably for Alex that can be clarified. So what are the claims that are out there about how masks might be dangerous for children or adults? Is this misinformation, or is there truth?

Bill Walsh: Well, Alex, why don’t you take a stab at that? And maybe Dr. Campbell wants to comment on it as well.

Alex Mahadevan: Yeah, I’d prefer to defer that, but I can tell you, there were lots of false claims claiming that that masks led to breathing problems and other things like that that we debunked early in the pandemic. I haven’t seen so many lately, but I guess I could kick that over to Dr. Campbell maybe. 

Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell? Yeah, go ahead.

Thomas Campbell: Yes, there, there is no credible evidence that masks are detrimental to the health of either adults or children. 

Bill Walsh: Okay, very good. Jesse, let’s go back to the phone lines. Who do we have next?

Jesse Salinas: I’m going to bring on Sarah from Louisiana. 

Bill Walsh: Hey, Sarah, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

Sarah: Yes, I was reading that if you have been boosted and you never had the COVID, that most chance you won’t get it now. Is that true? 

Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell?

Thomas Campbell: Yes. So thank you for that question. So boosting is the most effective measure we have right now for preventing COVID. It’s not 100 percent, and you can still get it. And in fact, I was fully vaccinated and boosted, and I still got omicron. So it does happen, but it’s the best protection that we have.

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks, Dr. Campbell. Let’s take another question, Jesse. 

Jesse Salinas: We’re going to take Jenny from Kentucky.

Bill Walsh: Hey, Jenny, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. 

Jenny: Hi, I sing in a choir, a church choir, and a lot of us are vaccinated, probably 90 percent. We’ve been singing with masks on. They’re about take the masks off, and my question is, how safe is that? I reside with someone who is older and immunocompromised. Thank you.

Bill Walsh: Yup. Thanks Jenny. Dr. Campbell.

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so that’s a very good question. There was a study from very early on in the pandemic of a choir in Washington state, where when the virus first came into the U.S., that the choral was a very effective way for the virus to spread. So it’s a very high likelihood of spreading if virus is in that situation. And I think having individuals who are not vaccinated be part of that choir, I think is very, very risky. And as I was saying in response to the last question, the vaccines work really well, but they’re not 100 percent. And so, if there was an infected person singing who was not vaccinated or even a vaccinated person, they could still spread it to others. So it, I think, really boils down to what the level of community infection is. And if there’s no infections occurring in your community, then the chance of someone spreading it is very, very small. Not zero, but very, very small. 

Bill Walsh: Yeah, I wonder, we still have folks who refuse to get vaccinated. It sounds like in Jenny’s case, most of the folks in her choir are, but does it seem reasonable to ask other members who are not to be tested with a quick test before rehearsals or performances?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, that will reduce the risk further, Bill. So that is another tool that we have. As I mentioned in response to one of the earlier questions, testing asymptomatic people is often falsely negative. So it’s not going to completely eliminate the risk, but it will reduce it. 

Bill Walsh: Well, and since we’re talking about a quick test, I want to remind people that you are eligible for four free tests. You can go online or call a toll-free number to request them. You can go online at www.covidtests.gov. That’s www.covidtests.gov, or you can call 800-232-0233. That is 800-232-0233. Once you sign up, the test will be mailed to your home. All right, Jesse, let’s go back to the phone lines. Who do we have up next?

Jesse Salinas: Yep, we’re going to bring on Carolyn from Ohio. 

Bill Walsh: Hey, Carolyn, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question.

Carolyn: My question is that I’m 98 years old. And I am on warfarin. I have been on it for a couple of years. And I also only weigh 81 pounds, and that’s all I weigh every time I go to the doctor. And that’s the only place I go, is to the doctors. And then the Coumadin test. And I’m a little worried about getting an overdose in the vaccine. 

Bill Walsh: Interesting question from Carolyn. Dr. Campbell, can you address this? Are there concerns about overdoses of vaccines or boosters?

Thomas Campbell: Yeah. Hi, Carolyn. Thanks for that question, and congratulations on being 98 years young. There’s no concern about an interaction between the vaccine and Coumadin, or for someone your body weight. We use the same vaccine dose in adolescents 12 and up, and I think for the Pfizer vaccine is what I’m referring to. So I would not have any concerns about you being vaccinated because of your body weight, because of your age or because of the fact that you take Coumadin. 

Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, let’s go back to the lines. Who do we have up next?

Jesse Salinas: Our next caller is going to be Jerry from Oregon. 

Bill Walsh: Hey, Jerry. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question. ... Go ahead, Jerry.

Jesse Salinas: (inaudible)

Bill Walsh: Yep, we can hear you. Go ahead with your question, Jerry. ... Seems we may have lost ...

Jerry: Oh, you’re talking to me? 

Bill Walsh: I am. Go ahead with your question.

Jerry: Oh yeah, I got some grandkids, they’re not vaccinated. We are fully vaccinated, but I haven’t seen them for such a long time. I mean, I see them, but I can’t have them over. I just wonder if it’s safe to have them over. They’ve actually had it and got over it here about a month ago or so.

Bill Walsh: All right. Well, let’s ask Dr. Campbell about that. Dr. Campbell.

Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so if you’re fully vaccinated and boosted, that’s the best tool that you have to protect yourself. As we’ve been discussing, it’s not 100 percent, and you can certainly still get infected, particularly with the omicron variant, but the vaccines — that’s, I think, an important message — that even if you get infected, that the vaccines protect you from getting severe infection so that your risk of hospitalization and your risk of dying is very, very much reduced. And I would also say that natural infection is also very protective against subsequent infections. So if your grandchildren recently had a confirmed COVID infection, confirmed either by a home test or a PCR test, then that was likely — if it was in the last two months — the Omicron variant, and they should be very well protected going forward at least for the next six months or so. We don’t know how long that protection will last. 

Bill Walsh: Okay. Thanks so much for that, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, let’s take another call.

Jesse Salinas: Yeah, we’re going to take Joyce from New York. 

Bill Walsh: Hey, Joyce, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question.

Joyce: We’re talking about false information. I even read it in the Times and on my phone, there’s some chatter about the vaccine affecting the DNA as opposed to the RNA. And I was wondering what the heck is that all about?

Bill Walsh: Hmm. Well, let’s ask Dr. Campbell. Dr. Campbell, what can you tell Joyce and others? 

Thomas Campbell: So the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are RNA-based vaccines. And our body is chock-full of RNA. We have trillions upon trillions of RNA molecules in our cells every day of our life. And the vaccine then just adds an additional RNA that tells ourselves to make the virus spike protein, so our body develops an immune response to it. We’re full of RNA. RNA does not go to DNA. It does not be converted to DNA except in very special circumstances, such as certain viruses, specifically what we call retroviruses such as HIV. And it only happens with HIV because HIV has an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that enables the virus to make DNA from its RNA. But our cells do not have reverse transcriptase, and we do not make DNA from our RNA, and we do not make DNA from our COVID vaccines.

Bill Walsh: Okay, Dr. Campbell, thanks for that explanation. This has been a really informative discussion. I want to thank both our panelists for answering our questions today and thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization, has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we’re providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus, prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves. All of the resources referenced today, including a recording of the Q&A event, can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning tomorrow, March 11. Go there if your question was not addressed, and you’ll find the latest updates as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. And if you’re looking for Medicare assistance during COVID-19, please visit the following website: shiphelp.org/COVID-19. That’s shiphelp.org/COVID-19. We hope you learned something today that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Please join us on March 24 for a special live coronavirus Q&A where we’ll talk about the impact of COVID nationwide. And you won’t want to miss AARP Celebrates You!, March 24 through the 26, for a fun-filled weekend of free online events, including celebrity chats, classic movies, concerts and more. Visit aarp.org/celebrates for details. We hope you can join us then. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

[00:00:00] Bill Walsh: Hello, I am AARP Vice President Bill Walsh, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the coronavirus. Before we begin, if you’d like to hear this telephone town hall in Spanish, please press *0 on your telephone keypad now.

[00:00:21] [Instructions in Spanish]

[00:00:22] AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization, has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them. Two years of the coronavirus pandemic have tested our resilience as a nation. COVID has brought economic disruptions, mental health challenges and more than 960,000 deaths nationwide. And while cases and deaths are thankfully on the decline, older adults, who have been particularly hard hit, still have many questions and concerns related to safety guidelines, booster shots and what to expect moving forward. Today, we’ll hear from an impressive panel of experts about these issues and more. We’ll also get an update from Capitol Hill on legislation affecting older Americans. 

[00:01:21] If you’ve participated in one of our tele-town halls before, you know this is similar to a radio talk show, and you have the opportunity to ask your questions live. For those of you joining us on the phone, if you’d like to ask a question about the coronavirus pandemic, press *3 on your telephone to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question, and place you in a queue to ask that question live. And if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can post your question in the comments.

[00:01:51] Hello, if you’re just joining, I'm Bill Walsh with AARP, and I want to welcome you to this important discussion about the global coronavirus pandemic. We’re talking with leading experts and taking your questions live. To ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad, and if you're joining on Facebook or YouTube, you can drop your question into the comments section. 

[00:02:15] We have some outstanding guests joining us today, including an infectious disease specialist and a misinformation expert. We’ll also be joined by my AARP colleague Jesse Salinas, who will help facilitate your calls today. This event is being recorded, and you can access the recording at aarp.org/coronavirus 24 hours after we wrap up. Again, to ask your question, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member, or if you’re joining on Facebook or YouTube, place your question in the comments.

[00:02:53] Now I’d like to welcome our guests. Thomas Campbell, M.D., is a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Anschutz Medical Campus Multidisciplinary Center on Aging. Welcome back to the program, Dr. Campbell. 

[00:03:11] Thomas Campbell: Hi, Bill, it’s great to be on the program. Thanks so much for inviting me.

[00:03:15] Bill Walsh: Thanks for coming. We’re also joined by Alex Mahadevan. Alex is the program manager at MediaWise. Welcome back, Alex. 

[00:03:25] Alex Mahadevan: Wonderful to be here. I appreciate the opportunity.

[00:03:27] Bill Walsh: All right, well let’s get going. And just a reminder, to ask your question, please press *3 on your telephone keypad or drop it in the comments section on Facebook or YouTube. Let’s go ahead and get started. Dr. Campbell, we’re learning much more about COVID after researchers found that those infected, even if not seriously ill, had more instances of heart disease, stroke and blood clots. And there was news this week that even mild COVID can cause reduced brain function. Can you tell us more about this research and the risks? 

[00:04:04] Thomas Campbell: Sure. So when we talk about long COVID, Bill, what we’re talking about are symptoms that persist after having a COVID infection, oftentimes for many months after the infection, by other measures, goes away. And these symptoms often include things like difficulty concentrating — often patients refer to it as a brain fog. But they can also include other things like muscle aches, fatigue is also very common. Sometimes a loss of taste or smell persist. What these news studies tell us though is, number one, a study from here in the United States among our veteran population, is that patients who recover from COVID, despite not having many of these symptoms at all, can have other things happen, very important things. Heart disease, like irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, stroke, are all more common in the veteran population after a recovery from a COVID illness. The second study that you mentioned comes out of the United Kingdom. And there what they found was that neurologic symptoms — things like I mentioned, difficulty concentrating, the brain fog-type symptoms — are also a much more common in people after having a COVID illness. And importantly, by doing a serial imaging of the brain with MRI, these researchers were able to identify structural differences in the brain that correlated with COVID and with the post-COVID symptoms. And these structural changes include things like decreased volume of the gray matter in the brain, which kind of explains some of the symptoms related to difficulty concentrating, for instance.

[00:06:10] Bill Walsh: Hmm, I wonder if these same risks that you mentioned apply to vaccinated people who have had breakthrough COVID infections. 

[00:06:20] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so neither of these two studies that we’ve mentioned included vaccinated people. So the veteran study that I mentioned actually occurred prior to rollout of vaccines. And then the study from the U.K. did not have information about vaccination. So from those two studies, we don’t know much about the effects of vaccination. However, we do know from other studies that vaccination reduces the risk of long-COVID symptoms. So if you have been vaccinated and develop a COVID infection — so a breakthrough infection — your risk of any long-COVID symptoms is about half of what it is for someone who’s been infected without vaccination.

[00:07:14] Bill Walsh: Well, you anticipated my next question about long COVID. I was going to ask you who is most affected. I assume it’s people who haven’t been vaccinated, but are there other markers for that? And also what research is needed to help us better understand long COVID. 

[00:07:29] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so the other things that we know that are associated with long-COVID symptoms include age. So older individuals are more likely to have long-COVID symptoms than younger individuals. And at least in some studies, female sex was also associated. Long-COVID symptoms is something that we really need to learn a lot more about. We don’t have as much information as we as we need to. And I would point out that here in the U.S., there is just now starting a very large nationwide study to address the issues related to long COVID and get more information. It’s called the Recover Study, and it’s being funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. There’ll be over a hundred sites across all the country. And so if anyone’s interested in contributing, even if you haven’t had COVID, I think they’re enrolling people without COVID as controls. But I’m sure there is a site near you.

[00:08:45] Bill Walsh: Okay. Well let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about preventive measures. You know, we’ve all seen changes in masking guidelines around the country. The CDC lifted its masking guidelines, and communities around the country have done the same. Is it time to put masks away for good? I’m wondering in what circumstances do you think people should continue to mask up? 

[00:09:15] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so I think in our current circumstance, which is very low rates of new COVID infections nationwide, I think it really is an individual choice. And I think the things that are important would be vaccination status. So if you have not been vaccinated, then you are still at very high risk of getting COVID, as well as getting severely ill from COVID should you get it. So if you haven’t been vaccinated, I would certainly encourage you to continue to mask. Second is that certain conditions, particularly conditions that result in suppression of the immune system. This could be people who have had treatments for cancer, people who have had treatment for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, with medicines that suppress the immune system. Those medicines also interfere with the body’s response to the vaccines, and the response in those individuals is not as good. And so those individuals are not as well protected even though they may have been vaccinated. And so I think those individuals, I would encourage to continue to mask.

[00:10:36] Bill Walsh: Okay, Dr. Campbell. Thanks, thanks very much. We’re going to have more questions for you soon. And as a reminder to our listeners, to ask your question, press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad. And we’re going to get to those live questions in a moment. But before we do, I wanted to bring in my AARP colleague Megan O’Reilly, who is a vice president of advocacy. Welcome, Megan.

[00:11:00] Megan O’Reilly: Delighted to be here, Bill. 

[00:11:03] All right. Now, in addition to sharing the most current coronavirus information, we’d like to take a couple of minutes to update our listeners about how AARP is fighting for them on Capitol Hill. Megan, any news to share with us on the advocacy front?

[00:11:18] Megan O’Reilly: Yes, there is good news for those with loved ones in nursing homes. Last week, the President announced the need for new important reforms for long-term care facilities. These changes would improve the safety and quality of nursing homes, hold facilities accountable for the care they provide, and make the quality of care and facility ownership more transparent. AARP has been fighting for years to make nursing homes safer, so we’re very pleased to see the changes that will be coming.

[00:11:49] Well that’s great. We know COVID hit nursing homes particularly hard. Can you talk about what some of the reforms are that are being proposed? 

[00:11:58] Megan O’Reilly: Sure. So specifically, under the plan announced, every nursing home would need to provide enough trained staff to provide quality care. We know boosting staffing levels will make a huge difference. Another reform included aims to explore ways to address overcrowding by limiting how many residents can be assigned to a room. Also poor-performing nursing homes would be held accountable for unsafe care. Substandard facilities would need to show improvements or risk losing taxpayer funding. And finally, there’d be greater transparency, so that families can have the information they need to make better decisions for their loved ones. We all want nursing home residents to have the safety and quality of care they deserve.

[00:12:43] We sure do. Now, in addition to nursing homes, AARP’s biggest fight right now is urging the government to finally take action to lower prescription drug prices. Is that right? 

[00:12:54] Megan O’Reilly: Absolutely. We know Americans are paying three times more than what people in other countries pay for the same name-brand prescription drugs. It’s simply unacceptable. We must keep the pressure on and urge the Senate to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs. More than 80 percent of voters across parties support this change, and it would save seniors and Medicare billions of dollars. It’s time for our elected officials to keep their promise to voters and lower prescription drug prices now.

[00:13:26] Okay. Finally, Megan, if our listeners want to stay on top of AARP’s advocacy news, we have a new webpage highlighting the latest updates and stories, like this segment. The blog is being called Fighting for You.

[00:13:43] Megan O’Reilly: Yes. You know, during this election year, it’s important to stay on top of the issues affecting you and everyone age 50 and older. We encourage you to go online and search AARP Fighting for You. That’ll point you to a daily roundup of the latest advocacy news and updates. It’s really a great way to stay informed, and we encourage everyone to check it out. 

[00:14:05] Okay, that’s AARP Fighting for You. Thanks for being with us, Megan.

[00:14:09] Megan O’Reilly: Great, thank you. 

[00:14:12] All right. Now it’s time to address your questions about the coronavirus pandemic with Dr. Thomas Campbell. As a reminder, please press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member and share your question live. And if you’d like to listen to this program in Spanish, please press *0 on your telephone keypad now.

[00:14:43] [Instructions in Spanish] 

[00:14:43] I’d now like to bring in my AARP colleague Jesse Salinas, to help facilitate your calls today. Welcome, Jesse.

[00:14:51] Jesse Salinas: So glad to be here, Bill. 

[00:14:53] Bill Walsh: All right, who is our first caller?

[00:14:57] Jesse Salinas: Our first call is actually going to come from YouTube. I’ve got Iwana Mitchell who asks, “I’m 68, I’m fully vaccinated and boosted, but I’m high risk due to underlying medical conditions. Should I still ask my family and friends to take a COVID home test before visiting me?”

[00:15:11] Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell, what would you answer to that? 

[00:15:15] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, I think that having your family and friends do a COVID home test is probably the highest level of protection that you can get. I would caution, though, that COVID home testing in asymptomatic people — in other words, people who don’t have any symptoms of COVID — may often miss an infection. So it’s certainly not a hundred percent, but that’s probably the best that you can do.

[00:15:45] Bill Walsh: Okay. Thank you. Jesse, let’s take another question. 

[00:15:49] Jesse Salinas: We’re going to take Jan from California.

[00:15:52] Bill Walsh: Hey, Jan. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question. 

[00:15:57] Jan: Yes, I was wondering, with this new opening of everything, how the senior seniors — like I’m 80 —how we can traverse the opening, as I’m fairly healthy, been vaxxed and boosted, and trying to have people come visit from out of state and stay with me. And other people come visit my relatives mainly, and going out to dinner. What’s the best way to stay safe, to wear masks when they’re in my house? I’m just not sure how to stay safe, or if we need to just wear masks all the time when we’re around each other until it’s better, because I just don’t really want to get it at my age, even though I don’t have any real health issues.

[00:16:42] Bill Walsh: Jan, thanks so much for that question. We are in this kind of tricky in-between period, aren’t we, Dr. Campbell? What would you suggest? 

[00:16:49] Thomas Campbell: We are, and, you know, the risk can never be zero unless you totally isolate yourself. It’s kind of analogous, I think, to driving a car: Every time we get in a car, we take a risk that we’re going to be in an automobile accident. We try to do everything we can to minimize that risk. And I think the same can be done with COVID, and it really depends on how much risk someone is willing to take, and age, other underlying health conditions are important factors to consider. As we were discussing with the last caller, testing prior to having visitors in your home could be a way to reduce the risk. Certainly, masking would reduce the risk further, but you have to weigh that against the quality of the visit that you have. So I think it becomes a very individualized decision about how much of these tools that we have to reduce risk we want to employ.

[00:17:54] Bill Walsh: All right, thanks so much for that, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, who’s our next caller?

[00:18:01] Jesse Salinas: Our next caller is going to be from Don in Virginia. 

[00:18:05] Bill Walsh: Hey, Don, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:18:10] Don: Well, I was just wondering just how long is this masking going to be going on? 

[00:18:22] Bill Walsh: Right. Well, I know in the state of Virginia, the masking requirements have been dropping all over the place. Dr. Campbell, is there a point when we’re just not going to have to worry about masks and social distancing at all?

[00:18:37] Thomas Campbell: Well, again, as we’ve talked about with the previous callers, I think it’s going to always be an individual decision. I think in terms of the more generalized public health decisions and requirements for masking, I think we will continue to move away from those, and we will see less and less of that. I think that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID, is not going to go away, it’s going to be with us for the rest of our lives. And we will see waves come through just like we see waves of flu and common cold. And again, I think it will be left to the individual to decide how much of these tools they want to use to protect themselves. But I think we will continue to see less and less mandates from our public health officials. 

[00:19:31] Bill Walsh: Yeah, I mean, of course in normal times or pre-COVID times, most folks aren’t wearing masks or socially distancing even during flu season. Do you think we’re going to get to that stage with COVID?

[00:19:46] Thomas Campbell: Well, I think what we’ve learned is that social distancing and masking prevents not only COVID, but it prevents other respiratory viruses as well. And in the last two years, the flu season has been much milder than it has been usually. So I think we will continue to use these tools, particularly to protect our most vulnerable people. 

[00:20:11] Bill Walsh: Okay. Jesse, let’s take another call.

[00:20:17] Jesse Salinas: Our next caller, Bill, is going to be Tammy from an 860 area code. 

[00:20:22] Bill Walsh: Hey, Tammy, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. Hey, Tammy, go ahead with your question.

[00:20:32] Tammy: Hi. Yes, my husband and I both are in our mid-80s, and we have both had two doses of the Moderna vaccine, plus a booster shot. The booster was about six months back. Do we need a fourth dose, and if so, what would be the timing? 

[00:20:52] Bill Walsh: Thanks for that question, Tammy. Dr. Campbell, can you talk about that? We’ve had a lot of questions about how many boosters folks are ultimately going to need?

[00:21:00] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so it’s a very good question, and it’s a question I cannot give you a definite answer on. Currently, people who do not have immuno-suppressing conditions require a total of three doses of an RNA vaccine, like the Moderna vaccine that you received, and the third dose being referred to as the booster dose. Right now, that is all that is recommended for individuals like yourself. Individuals who have a suppressed immune system from an organ transplantation or cancer treatments, et cetera., those individuals do require a fourth dose at this time. Whether otherwise non-immuno-suppressed people will require a fourth dose and immuno-suppressed will require a fifth dose, we don’t know yet. Right now, nationally, we see cases declining, so there’s no urgent reason for people to go out and get a fourth or fifth dose at this time. That may change. It may change because our protection from the booster will decline over time. And it may change with appearance of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So I think we have to pay close attention to those things and guide our recommendations based on those types of information when they become available. 

[00:22:36] Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks so much, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, let’s go back to the phone lines.

[00:22:42] Jesse Salinas: Yep, our next question is going to be from Pam in South Carolina. 

[00:22:45] Bill Walsh: Hey, Pam, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:22:50] Pam: Hello, thank you. My husband had COVID over a year ago and lost his sense of taste and smell. Well he still does not have it back. So I’m wondering, is there anything that can be done, any recommendations on how he could get those senses back? 

[00:23:07] Bill Walsh: Hmm, Dr. Campbell, what do we know about that? Is this a case of long-COVID, do you think? And if so, are there any treatments that could help Pam’s husband?

[00:23:17] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so this does sound like long COVID and persistent loss of taste and/or smell after recovery from COVID is one of the commonly reported symptoms in people who have long COVID. So I do think that that is the explanation. As far as what to do about it, we don’t have treatments for long-COVID at this time, specifically for the loss of taste and smell. I’ve heard anecdotes of people trying to train their smell and taste senses to come back by a sort of stepwise program of various types of odors and tastes. And then also there have been anecdotes of people’s symptoms of long-COVID improving after getting a vaccination. So if your husband hasn’t been vaccinated and boosted, I would encourage him to do that. 

[00:24:24] Bill Walsh: And doctor, I’m wondering if you’ve heard instances where those long-COVID symptoms have simply vanished over time? Is it possible that people who don’t, or have lost their sense of taste, will eventually get it back, or do you ...

[00:24:37] Thomas Campbell: It absolutely is possible. And that is the case for many patients.

[00:24:42] Bill Walsh: Okay, very good. Jesse, let’s go back to the line. Who do we have next? 

[00:24:47] Jesse Salinas: Yeah, the next question that also comes from YouTube. We get this question quite a bit, Bill. The question about vitamin D and how vitamin D either helps or doesn’t help with COVID or COVID complications. If we can ask that question, that’d be great.

[00:25:00] Bill Walsh: Hmm, Dr. Campbell, what do we know about the effects of vitamin B on COVID and the symptoms? 

[00:25:06] Thomas Campbell: Oh, sorry, was it vitamin B or vitamin D?

[00:25:11] Jesse Salinas: D, like David. 

[00:25:13] Thomas Campbell: Yes, so vitamin D is an important vitamin for resistance to infections, not just COVID, but other infections. So older people often have deficiencies in vitamin D. People who live in northern latitudes where the sun doesn’t shine much in the winter also have deficiencies, because the vitamin D is made in our skin in response to exposure to sunlight. So, number one, what I suggest is that if you haven’t had it done already, that you periodically — once every year, two or three — get a vitamin D level checked as part of your routine health screening. And if you do have low levels of vitamin D, then you should certainly take a vitamin D supplement. If you have normal levels of vitamin D, I’m not aware of any evidence that a vitamin D supplementation would be beneficial.

[00:26:15] Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks so much, Dr. Campbell. And as a reminder to our listeners, press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member and ask your question live. Jesse, who is our next caller? 

[00:26:32] Jesse Salinas: Yeah, I’m going to bring Kathy from Connecticut on the line.

[00:26:35] Bill Walsh: Hey, Kathy, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. 

[00:26:39] Kathy: Hi, thank you. Dr. Campbell, I have a couple of grandchildren under the age of 3 that I'm mostly concerned about. I’m wondering when the vaccine, you think the vaccine might be available to them, and what else can we do? We’re already masking when we’re out. Should we continue doing that? I don’t know what else do to keep these two little ones safe.

[00:26:59] Bill Walsh: Yeah. Dr. Campbell?

[00:27:01] Thomas Campbell: Yeah. Hi, Cathy. So unfortunately, it’s not been as simple as we had hoped to get a vaccine for young children. You know young children are simply not just small adults. They are very different biologically, and their immune systems are very different. And the studies that have gone on so far, particularly with the Pfizer vaccine, the responses to the vaccine, the levels of antibodies produced in young children have not been deemed to be adequate. So Pfizer is still working to get the right dose for young children. And I do think that that will happen. It’s just taking longer than we had anticipated. In terms of what to do, fortunately, young children tend not to get as ill as adults do when they get COVID. But we should still do everything we can to protect them. Certainly among adults interacting with the children or older children interacting with the children, it’d be important to make sure that everybody is vaccinated. And wearing masks — again, that’s something that can reduce the risk even further, but it’s a question of whether or not it’s necessary in your circumstance to do that. But certainly, if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, even just the sniffles, then it would be important to wear a mask or to avoid contact. 

[00:28:46] Bill Walsh: Doctor, I wonder if you have any sense of how far away that vaccine is for very young children. You talked about some of the ongoing research. Do we feel it might be weeks, months, years?

[00:28:58] Thomas Campbell: I don’t have any inside information, number one. And just from what I’ve read in press releases and other information that’s come out publicly, I would think that we are several months or more at the very earliest. 

[00:29:16] Bill Walsh: Okay, very good. Jesse, let’s go back to the lines. Who do we have next?

[00:29:22] Jesse Salinas: Yeah, the next question also comes from YouTube. This is from Kim, who says, “There’s a concern in my community that the COVID testing kits can cause cancer and that weekly testing increases that risk. Is this true?”

[00:29:34] Bill Walsh: Well, let me pose this one to Alex Mahadevan. Alex, of course, is the program manager at MediaWise, which does a lot to help people spot misinformation online, including trainings. Alex, can you address that question? 

[00:29:49] Alex Mahadevan: Yeah, so that is false. That is totally false. These testing kits do not cause cancer. So you do not need to worry about testing weekly. What I will say is this is what we call, in my industry, a zombie claim. This is a piece of disinformation that has come up constantly ever since people started testing. So, no, you do not have to worry about that.

[00:30:15] Bill Walsh: All right. Thanks, Alex. And we’re going to get more insights from Alex a bit later on the program. Let’s go back to the phone lines. Jesse, who do we have up next? 

[00:30:26] Jesse Salinas: Our next question is going to be Bernie in Massachusetts.

[00:30:29] Bill Walsh: Hey, Bernie, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. 

[00:30:32] Bernie: My question’s for Dr. Campbell because I’m a Campbell also. A question I have is regarding the effective monitoring of the drug remdesivir when a person has already been diagnosed as having A-fib in addition to being positive for the virus.

[00:30:59] Bill Walsh: So you’re asking, Bernie, about the effectiveness or any health risks?

[00:31:05] Jesse Salinas: I think we lost him.

[00:31:06] Bill Walsh: Okay. Well, Dr. Campbell, perhaps you can address the use of that particular treatment. 

[00:31:13] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, hi, Bernie, nice to meet you and thanks for that question. So remdesivir is an antiviral medication that is used to treat COVID once COVID happens. It’s not used for prevention, it’s only used for treatment. And it can be used both in the inpatient settings — so for people who have to be hospitalized — and it can be used in the outpatient setting for people who have COVID. In the outpatient setting it’s very effective in preventing hospitalization. It has to be given intravenously. And so you would have to go to an infusion center to get it, where you would be monitored very closely. And for prevention of hospitalization in the outpatient setting, it’s three doses given once a day for three consecutive days. In the hospital setting, it’s five doses once a day.

[00:32:08] Bill Walsh: Okay, very good, Dr. Campbell. Thanks so much. Jesse, let’s take another call. 

[00:32:13] Jesse Salinas: Yeah, we’re going to bring on Blaine from Oregon.

[00:32:17] Bill Walsh: Hey, Blaine, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. 

[00:32:22] Blaine: Yes, my question concerns how do we actually put any kind of trust and faith in the statistics we’re hearing about how effective the vaccines are when the CDC stopped even counting breakthrough COVID cases way back in May of 2020? So how do we really even know the effectiveness of this stuff, because I’ve also heard the control group were basically persuaded to take the vaccines as well. So where do we stand on understanding this better?

[00:33:02] Bill Walsh: Go ahead. I didn’t mean to interrupt you, Blaine.

[00:33:04] Jesse Salinas: We might have lost him, Bill.

[00:33:04] Bill Walsh: Oh, okay. I’m sorry. So Blaine was asking, how can we trust the statistics, particularly around the effectiveness of the vaccines? 

[00:33:11] Thomas Campbell: So, Blaine, there’s two different ways that we’ve evaluated the effectiveness of vaccines. One is in clinical trials, where patients volunteer to be part of a research study. And then in those trials, they were given either vaccine or placebo. And you are correct. In those trials, once it was determined that the vaccines worked really well, the patients who received placebo were offered the chance to get the vaccine, and almost all of them took up that chance and got the vaccine. But the other way that we evaluate vaccine effectiveness is through monitoring the effect of the vaccines as they’ve been used in very large scales, not only across the United States but across the world. And you mentioned the CDC has data on vaccine effectiveness, and in those studies, what they’re comparing is the rate of a COVID infection, the rate of hospitalization, the rate of death in people who chose to get the vaccine versus those who chose not to get the vaccine. And for instance, in the United States, the rate of death is 10 times greater in people who choose not to get the vaccine. Now, the CDC is only one source of information and one source of data, but what’s very powerful is that other studies in other countries, all across the world — the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, South Africa, Israel, countries in South America — they’ve all come to the same conclusion that these vaccines are highly effective. So it’s not just the CDC’s data, it’s worldwide data on hundreds of millions of people.

[00:35:10] Bill Walsh: Thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Alex, I wanted to ask you on this question, do you see much online about people questioning the effectiveness of vaccines? 

[00:35:22] Alex Mahadevan: Yes, unfortunately, that is one of the biggest pieces of misinformation that we see online. And unfortunately there was a very strong and vocal anti-vaccination minority that was almost preparing for a situation like this. And once the vaccines rolled out, we just saw misinformation after misinformation. And it’s something we are still fighting to this day on the fact-checking side.

[00:35:49] Bill Walsh: And Alex, in instances where you see that kind of misinformation, what do you tell people? Do you send them to the CDC website? What other sources are there for people to check it out? 

[00:36:02] Alex Mahadevan: Really, the CDC is the first place to send people. I think that that is going straight to the source.

[00:36:12] Bill Walsh: Okay. All right, thank you, Alex and Dr. Campbell, and thanks to our listeners for all your questions. We’re going to take more questions shortly. And, as a reminder, if you’d like to get into the queue to ask your question live, press *3, or if you’re on YouTube or Facebook, just drop it into the comments section. Let me turn back to our expert for a moment. Dr. Campbell, last week, the U.S. Health officials laid out a national roadmap to manage COVID-19 going forward. It includes free antivirals as immediate treatment following infection, investing in domestic production, stockpiling tests, and an expedited approval process for vaccines specific to particular variants. Are these preemptive changes designed to focus on a risk of new variants that we might see?

[00:37:06] Thomas Campbell: Yes, they are, but they’re also intended to focus on the variants we’ve also seen. So the strategic plan that is outlined has basically four key pillars to it, if you will. One is to do better about protecting against COVID and treating it should it occur. The second is the preparation for new variants. The third is to prevent the economic effects of COVID as well as the educational effects for children. And then the fourth is to lead the effort to provide access to vaccines worldwide. So the questions you’ve asked really pertain to the first two goals, and we can’t predict what the virus is going to do in terms of variation. All we can say is that we have to be prepared for new variants, and we should expect new variants to occur. What we’ve seen with variants so far is that the vaccines still work very well, but only if you’ve had a booster dose. Without a booster dose, they don’t work very well. So if you haven’t had a booster dose, that’s very key to get one. And then second, in terms of treatments are antiviral treatments like remdesivir, as we were talking about earlier. Those still work very well against variants. Variants don’t affect them at all. Although our other group of treatments, called monoclonal antibodies, are affected by variants. And so we’ve had to refine monoclonal antibodies for treating COVID as new variants pop up. And I think we’ll continue to do that in the future, and I think the President’s plan just provides a strategy and a roadmap for doing those things. 

[00:39:09] Bill Walsh: I'm curious, Dr. Campbell, if you see any other variants lurking out there that are of concern to you?

[00:39:17] Thomas Campbell: Well, the only other variant on the horizon right now is a subvariant of the omicron variant. So the omicron variant that came through the United States in December and January, that one we referred to as BA.1. There is a subvariant called BA.2 that’s very closely related to BA.1 but is even more infectious than BA.1 was. What we’ve really seen that the pattern with variants is that each variant tends to be more infectious than the previous one. So here in the United States, the alpha variant that we had a year ago was more infectious than the original Wuhan strain, and then delta was more infectious than alpha. The BA.1 omicron was more infectious than delta, and now BA.2 is more infectious than BA.1. And we are seeing BA.2 in the United States. It’s a very small proportion right now, but in England, it’s now over 50 percent of cases in England. And I think we will see a similar pattern here. Whether or not there’s a surge in new cases, I don’t anticipate that in the near future, but certainly could happen again when we get into the fall cold and flu season.

[00:40:46] Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Let me switch gears now. We’ve talked a little bit about COVID misinformation and, of course, misinformation continues to undermine public health efforts to end the pandemic. With the pandemic now entering its third year, we’re going to address some misinformation for the next few weeks in a segment we call 4-Minute Fact Check. We’ll ask our expert, Alex Mahadevan, to help debunk misleading claims and understand why misinformation is so problematic. Alex, of course, is from MediaWise, which is in the business of spotting misinformation online and helping consumers spot it as well. MediaWise partners with AARP to help older Americans learn how to sort fact from fiction online. Alex, last week, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, announced an investigation into health misinformation online. What is the scope of this effort, and what does Dr. Murthy hope to learn from it? 

[00:41:49] Alex Mahadevan: Well, this is pretty huge. It’s a really wide scope. Dr. Murthy, who I will say has been at the forefront of calling attention to health misinformation since he started really, has formally requested that the big tech companies — your Facebooks, Googles and Twitters, and even e-commerce companies like Amazon — turn over any data and research they have about the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. And that might include the number of people that are reached with, I don’t know, a false post claiming vaccines contain microchips. They’re also asking for a list of specific groups or individuals that have been spreading harmful misinformation. So Murthy and the entire Biden administration is setting up a blueprint for managing COVID-19 in the long term. And that includes preparedness for what misinformation may come about new variants or treatments, or really any type of misinformation about COVID-19 that we haven’t seen already.

[00:42:48] Bill Walsh: Okay, let me follow up on that. Now, of course, we’ve seen misinformation for years now online and social media networks on a variety of topics. What tools are available to the Surgeon General to help curb online misinformation? 

[00:43:05] Alex Mahadevan: Well, I think it really comes down to education. I think that strongest tool is communicating about the dangers of online misinformation. I think Dr. Murthy has a very big platform, and the best thing he can do is, once he goes through all this data and research and really gets a good idea about the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, really develop a good educational outreach program. What I will say is I think you, the listeners here, have the tools yourselves to curb online misinformation by not sharing it. And really, you can do that very simply. We break it down. Ask yourself these three questions whenever you see anything about COVID-19: Who’s behind the information? Who shared the post? Are they an expert like Dr. Campbell? Did they cite any sources or anything like that? That’s the second question. What evidence do they have? You know, if they didn’t cite any data or research or any evidence, you might not want to share it. And then the last question that we want to arm you with is, what are other sources saying about whatever it is, the poster image or video that you’re seeing. Check out new sources like the Associated Press or go straight to the CDC like we talked about earlier. Read multiple sources. So really, I’m hoping Dr. Murthy can get the education out there. But really the tools are right in your pocket.

[00:44:29] Bill Walsh: That’s a great point, Alex. Now the Surgeon General is also seeking information from teachers and health care workers and community organizations. Why is that? What’s the connection there? 

[00:44:42] Alex Mahadevan: Well, it’s easy to think about misinformation as sort of an online issue that’s confined to social media, especially for someone like me that, unfortunately, has to spend a lot of time on social media. But really it’s not. It’s not confined to the internet. Falsehoods online lead to real-world dangers. And teachers and health care workers are really on the front lines in confronting the misinformation. They’re hearing from their communities in the real world. You know, doctors and nurses, who’ve already been pushed to the limit during the pandemic, have also had to become de facto fact-checkers. Debunking misinformation about vaccines with their patients — you know, just another added layer of responsibility to the massive amount of responsibility they already have. So I can see that their input and Dr. Murthy’s effort will add a lot more depth to the tech companies’ data and research that will also come in.

[00:45:39] Bill Walsh: All right. Now, has there ever been a misinformation investigation like this in the past?

[00:45:45] Alex Mahadevan: Well, I’m sure listeners might remember those dramatic scenes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Twitter’s Jack Dorsey testifying before Congress about, you know, misinformation on their platforms, among other things. Last year, President Joe Biden formed a task force that has this long fancy name that I won’t get into, but a task force to investigate disinformation and democracy. But what I will say is Dr. Murthy’s request to tech companies is really sort of the first concrete action that I can remember against health misinformation that I’ve seen, really. And to be clear, to add one little point to that, there doesn’t seem to really right now be any formal penalty if these tech companies don't want to turn over their data about COVID-19 misinformation. But it is a very strong request, and it’s something that I doubt companies will want to ignore. 

[00:46:37] Bill Walsh: Okay. Well, Alex, finally, I wonder if there’s any emerging misinformation efforts you want to call our attention to?

[00:46:48] Alex Mahadevan: Yes, so right here in my home state of Florida, the surgeon general just recently recommended against vaccinating healthy children for COVID-19 vaccine. And so I want to say I’m seeing a lot of troubling misinformation about kids and vaccines. There are some claims that falsely say that kids are harmed by the vaccine, or may be at risk of myocarditis. Actually kids are more likely to get that from being infected by COVID-19, not being vaccinated. Also, we’re seeing a lot of people distorting facts, distorting data facts, to try to claim that healthy kids aren’t affected by COVID-19. And I got to tell you, there are definitely some overloaded pediatric units that we’ve seen around the country this year that would disagree. And so vaccines in children, misinformation about that may be influencing policy. We continue to see vaccine misinformation. One claim that just popped up recently that was going all around the blogosphere was that people who’ve been vaccinated, are more likely and more susceptible to HIV or AIDS. And this, again, is another thing being pushed by the anti-vaccination crowd. Lastly, I got to say we’ve, since we’ve been talking about masks, I hate to bring it back to Florida, my home state, but recently our governor told the group of kids that masking doesn’t do anything. And while masking is increasingly becoming an individual choice, but it is false to claim that masks do nothing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And I think as we move into this post-mask mandate world, we need to expect a lot more misinformation about masks to circulate.

[00:48:28] Bill Walsh: All right, Alex. Thanks so much for those comments. Let’s go back to the phone lines. It’s now time to address more of your questions with Dr. Thomas Campbell and Alex Mahadevan. As a reminder, press *3 at any time on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member and ask your question live. Jesse, who do we have up next? 

[00:48:52] Jesse Salinas: So I have a question probably for Alex that can be clarified. So what are the claims that are out there about how masks might be dangerous for children or adults? Is this misinformation, or is there truth?

[00:49:03] Bill Walsh: Well, Alex, why don’t you take a stab at that? And maybe Dr. Campbell wants to comment on it as well.

[00:49:10] Alex Mahadevan: Yeah, I’d prefer to defer that, but I can tell you, there were lots of false claims claiming that that masks led to breathing problems and other things like that that we debunked early in the pandemic. I haven’t seen so many lately, but I guess I could kick that over to Dr. Campbell maybe. 

[00:49:35] Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell? Yeah, go ahead.

[00:49:37] Thomas Campbell: Yes, there, there is no credible evidence that masks are detrimental to the health of either adults or children. 

[00:49:45] Bill Walsh: Okay, very good. Jesse, let’s go back to the phone lines. Who do we have next?

[00:49:51] Jesse Salinas: I’m going to bring on Sarah from Louisiana. 

[00:49:53] Bill Walsh: Hey, Sarah, welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:49:58] Sarah: Yes, I was reading that if you have been boosted and you never had the COVID, that most chance you won’t get it now. Is that true? 

[00:50:11] Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell?

[00:50:13] Thomas Campbell: Yes. So thank you for that question. So boosting is the most effective measure we have right now for preventing COVID. It’s not 100 percent, and you can still get it. And in fact, I was fully vaccinated and boosted, and I still got omicron. So it does happen, but it’s the best protection that we have.

[00:50:43] Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks, Dr. Campbell. Let’s take another question, Jesse. 

[00:50:48] Jesse Salinas: We’re going to take Jenny from Kentucky.

[00:50:51] Bill Walsh: Hey, Jenny, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question. 

[00:50:56] Jenny: Hi, I sing in a choir, a church choir, and a lot of us are vaccinated, probably 90 percent. We’ve been singing with masks on. They’re about take the masks off, and my question is, how safe is that? I reside with someone who is older and immunocompromised. Thank you.

[00:51:14] Bill Walsh: Yup. Thanks Jenny. Dr. Campbell.

[00:51:17] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so that’s a very good question. There was a study from very early on in the pandemic of a choir in Washington state, where when the virus first came into the U.S., that the choral was a very effective way for the virus to spread. So it’s a very high likelihood of spreading if virus is in that situation. And I think having individuals who are not vaccinated be part of that choir, I think is very, very risky. And as I was saying in response to the last question, the vaccines work really well, but they’re not 100 percent. And so, if there was an infected person singing who was not vaccinated or even a vaccinated person, they could still spread it to others. So it, I think, really boils down to what the level of community infection is. And if there’s no infections occurring in your community, then the chance of someone spreading it is very, very small. Not zero, but very, very small. 

[00:52:44] Bill Walsh: Yeah, I wonder, we still have folks who refuse to get vaccinated. It sounds like in Jenny’s case, most of the folks in her choir are, but does it seem reasonable to ask other members who are not to be tested with a quick test before rehearsals or performances?

[00:53:03] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, that will reduce the risk further, Bill. So that is another tool that we have. As I mentioned in response to one of the earlier questions, testing asymptomatic people is often falsely negative. So it’s not going to completely eliminate the risk, but it will reduce it. 

[00:53:26] Bill Walsh: Well, and since we’re talking about a quick test, I want to remind people that you are eligible for four free tests. You can go online or call a toll-free number to request them. You can go online at www.covidtests.gov. That’s www.covidtests.gov, or you can call 800-232-0233. That is 800-232-0233. Once you sign up, the test will be mailed to your home. All right, Jesse, let’s go back to the phone lines. Who do we have up next?

[00:54:10] Jesse Salinas: Yep, we’re going to bring on Carolyn from Ohio. 

[00:54:13] Bill Walsh: Hey, Carolyn, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:54:18] Carolyn: My question is that I’m 98 years old. And I am on warfarin. I have been on it for a couple of years. And I also only weigh 81 pounds, and that’s all I weigh every time I go to the doctor. And that’s the only place I go, is to the doctors. And then the Coumadin test. And I’m a little worried about getting an overdose in the vaccine. 

[00:54:54] Bill Walsh: Interesting question from Carolyn. Dr. Campbell, can you address this? Are there concerns about overdoses of vaccines or boosters?

[00:55:06] Thomas Campbell: Yeah. Hi, Carolyn. Thanks for that question, and congratulations on being 98 years young. There’s no concern about an interaction between the vaccine and Coumadin, or for someone your body weight. We use the same vaccine dose in adolescents 12 and up, and I think for the Pfizer vaccine is what I’m referring to. So I would not have any concerns about you being vaccinated because of your body weight, because of your age or because of the fact that you take Coumadin. 

[00:55:49] Bill Walsh: Okay, thanks for that, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, let’s go back to the lines. Who do we have up next?

[00:55:55] Jesse Salinas: Our next caller is going to be Jerry from Oregon. 

[00:55:58] Bill Walsh: Hey, Jerry. Welcome to the program. Go ahead with your question. ... Go ahead, Jerry.

[00:56:05] Jesse Salinas: [inaudible]

[00:56:06] Bill Walsh: Yep, we can hear you. Go ahead with your question, Jerry. ... Seems we may have lost ...

[00:56:14] Jerry: Oh, you’re talking to me? 

[00:56:16] Bill Walsh: I am. Go ahead with your question.

[00:56:18] Jerry: Oh yeah, I got some grandkids, they’re not vaccinated. We are fully vaccinated, but I haven’t seen them for such a long time. I mean, I see them, but I can’t have them over. I just wonder if it’s safe to have them over. They’ve actually had it and got over it here about a month ago or so.

[00:56:42] Bill Walsh: All right. Well, let’s ask Dr. Campbell about that. Dr. Campbell.

[00:56:46] Thomas Campbell: Yeah, so if you’re fully vaccinated and boosted, that’s the best tool that you have to protect yourself. As we’ve been discussing, it’s not 100 percent, and you can certainly still get infected, particularly with the omicron variant, but the vaccines — that’s, I think, an important message — that even if you get infected, that the vaccines protect you from getting severe infection so that your risk of hospitalization and your risk of dying is very, very much reduced. And I would also say that natural infection is also very protective against subsequent infections. So if your grandchildren recently had a confirmed COVID infection, confirmed either by a home test or a PCR test, then that was likely — if it was in the last two months — the Omicron variant, and they should be very well protected going forward at least for the next six months or so. We don’t know how long that protection will last. 

[00:57:58] Bill Walsh: Okay. Thanks so much for that, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, let’s take another call.

[00:58:03] Jesse Salinas: Yeah, we’re going to take Joyce from New York. 

[00:58:05] Bill Walsh: Hey, Joyce, welcome to our program. Go ahead with your question.

[00:58:12] Joyce: We’re talking about false information. I even read it in the Times and on my phone, there’s some chatter about the vaccine affecting the DNA as opposed to the RNA. And I was wondering what the heck is that all about?

[00:58:29] Bill Walsh: Hmm. Well, let’s ask Dr. Campbell. Dr. Campbell, what can you tell Joyce and others? 

[00:58:35] Thomas Campbell: So the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are RNA-based vaccines. And our body is chock-full of RNA. We have trillions upon trillions of RNA molecules in our cells every day of our life. And the vaccine then just adds an additional RNA that tells ourselves to make the virus spike protein, so our body develops an immune response to it. We’re full of RNA. RNA does not go to DNA. It does not be converted to DNA except in very special circumstances, such as certain viruses, specifically what we call retroviruses such as HIV. And it only happens with HIV because HIV has an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that enables the virus to make DNA from its RNA. But our cells do not have reverse transcriptase, and we do not make DNA from our RNA, and we do not make DNA from our COVID vaccines.

[00:59:42] Bill Walsh: Okay, Dr. Campbell, thanks for that explanation. This has been a really informative discussion. I want to thank both our panelists for answering our questions today and thank you, our AARP members, volunteers and listeners for participating in this discussion. AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization, has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. In the face of this crisis, we’re providing information and resources to help older adults and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus, prevent its spread to others while taking care of themselves. All of the resources referenced today, including a recording of the Q&A event, can be found at aarp.org/coronavirus beginning tomorrow, March 11. Go there if your question was not addressed, and you’ll find the latest updates as well as information created specifically for older adults and family caregivers. And if you’re looking for Medicare assistance during COVID-19, please visit the following website: shiphelp.org/COVID-19. That’s shiphelp.org/COVID-19. We hope you learned something today that can help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Please join us on March 24 for a special live coronavirus Q&A where we’ll talk about the impact of COVID nationwide. And you won’t want to miss AARP Celebrates You!, March 24 through the 26, for a fun-filled weekend of free online events, including celebrity chats, classic movies, concerts and more. Visit aarp.org/celebrates for details. We hope you can join us then. Thank you and have a good day. This concludes our call.

Bill Walsh: Hola, soy Bill Walsh, vicepresidente de AARP, y quiero darles la bienvenida a esta importante discusión sobre el coronavirus. Antes de comenzar, si desean escuchar esta teleasamblea en español, presionen *0 en el teclado de su teléfono ahora.

 

[En español]

 

Bill Walsh: AARP, una organización de membresía, sin fines de lucro ni afiliación política, ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores durante más de 60 años. Ante la pandemia mundial del coronavirus, AARP brinda información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan.

 

Dos años de pandemia de coronavirus han puesto a prueba nuestra resiliencia como nación. La COVID-19 ha provocado trastornos económicos, problemas de salud mental y más de 960,000 muertes en todo el país. Y aunque afortunadamente los casos y las muertes están disminuyendo, los adultos mayores que se han visto particularmente afectados todavía tienen muchas preguntas e inquietudes relacionadas con las pautas de seguridad, las vacunas de refuerzo y qué esperar en el futuro.

 

Hoy escucharemos a un impresionante panel de expertos hablar sobre estos temas y otros. También recibiremos una actualización del Capitolio sobre la legislación que afecta a los adultos mayores. Si ya han participado en alguna de nuestras teleasambleas, saben que es similar a un programa de entrevistas de radio y tienen la oportunidad de hacer sus preguntas en vivo.

 

Para quienes nos acompañan por teléfono, si desean hacer una pregunta sobre la pandemia del coronavirus, presionen *3 para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP que anotará su nombre y su pregunta y los colocará en espera para hacer esa pregunta en vivo. Y si se conectan por Facebook o YouTube, pueden publicar su pregunta en los comentarios.

 

Hola, si acaban de unirse, soy Bill Walsh de AARP y quiero darles la bienvenida a este importante debate sobre la pandemia mundial del coronavirus. Estaremos hablando con los principales expertos y respondiendo sus preguntas en vivo. Para hacer una pregunta, presionen *3 en el teclado de su teléfono. Y si participan por medio de Facebook o YouTube, pueden dejar su pregunta en la sección de comentarios.

 

Hoy nos acompañan varios invitados destacados, incluido un especialista en enfermedades infecciosas y un experto en desinformación. También nos acompañará mi colega de AARP, Jesse Salinas, quien ayudará a facilitar sus llamadas. Este evento está siendo grabado y podrán acceder a la grabación en aarp.org\coronavirus 24 horas después de que terminemos. Nuevamente, para hacer una pregunta, presionen *3 en cualquier momento, en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP, o si participan por medio de Facebook o YouTube, coloquen su pregunta en los comentarios.

 

Ahora, me gustaría dar la bienvenida a nuestros invitados. El doctor Thomas Campbell es profesor de Medicina en la División de Enfermedades Infecciosas de la Facultad de Medicina de University of Colorado y del Centro Multidisciplinario sobre el Envejecimiento del Anschut Medical Campus. Bienvenido de nuevo al programa, Dr. Campbell.

 

Thomas Campbell: Hola, Bill. Qué bien estar en el programa. Muchas gracias por invitarme.

 

Bill Walsh: Gracias por venir. También nos acompaña Alex Mahadevan. Alex es el gerente de programas en MediaWise. Bienvenido de nuevo, Alex.

 

Alex Mahadevan: Me place estar aquí. Agradezco la oportunidad.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien. Bueno, pongámonos en marcha. Y solo un recordatorio, para hacer una pregunta, presionen *3 en el teclado de su teléfono o déjenla en la sección de comentarios en Facebook o YouTube. Comencemos. Dr. Campbell, estamos aprendiendo mucho más sobre la COVID-19 después de que los investigadores descubrieran que las personas infectadas, aunque no estuvieran gravemente enfermas, tenían más incidencias de enfermedad cardíaca, accidentes cerebrovasculares y coágulos sanguíneos. Y hubo noticias esta semana de que incluso la COVID-19 leve puede causar un deterioro de la función cerebral. ¿Puede contarnos más sobre esta investigación y los riesgos?

 

Thomas Campbell: Claro. Cuando hablamos de COVID-19 prolongada, Bill, estamos hablando de síntomas que persisten después de tener una infección por COVID-19, a menudo durante muchos meses, después de que desaparece la infección por otros medios. Y estos síntomas a menudo incluyen dificultad para concentrarse, a menudo los pacientes se refieren a esto como confusión mental. Pero también pueden incluir otros síntomas, como dolores musculares, la fatiga también es muy común.

 

A veces persiste la pérdida del gusto o del olfato. Sin embargo, lo que estos nuevos estudios nos dicen es, primero, un estudio de aquí en Estados Unidos entre nuestra población de veteranos es que los pacientes que se recuperan de la COVID-19, a pesar de no tener muchos de los síntomas, pueden tener otros problemas muy importantes. Las enfermedades del corazón, como la frecuencia cardíaca irregular, los infartos de miocardio y los derrames cerebrales, son más frecuentes en la población de veteranos después de recuperarse de una enfermedad de COVID-19.

 

El segundo estudio que menciona proviene del Reino Unido, y allí lo que encontraron fue que los síntomas neurológicos, como los que mencioné, la dificultad para concentrarse, los síntomas del tipo de confusión mental, también son mucho más comunes en las personas después de tener una enfermedad de COVID-19.

 

Y lo que es más importante, al tomar una serie de imágenes cerebrales con resonancia magnética, estos investigadores pudieron identificar diferencias estructurales en el cerebro que se correlacionaban con COVID-19 y con los síntomas posteriores a ella. Y estos cambios estructurales incluyen, por ejemplo, la disminución del volumen de materia gris en el cerebro, lo que explica algunos de los síntomas relacionados con la dificultad para concentrarse, por ejemplo.

 

Bill Walsh: Me pregunto si los mismos riesgos que mencionó se aplican a las personas vacunadas que han tenido infecciones por COVID-19.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, ninguno de estos dos estudios que hemos mencionado incluyeron personas vacunadas, por lo que el estudio de veteranos que mencioné en realidad ocurrió antes del lanzamiento de las vacunas. Y luego, el estudio del Reino Unido no tenía información sobre la vacunación. Así que de esos dos estudios, no sabemos mucho sobre los efectos de la vacunación.

 

Sin embargo, sabemos por otros estudios que la vacunación reduce el riesgo de síntomas prolongados de COVID-19. Entonces, si uno ha sido vacunado y contrae una infección por COVID-19, es decir, una infección posvacunación, su riesgo de tener síntomas prolongados de COVID-19 es aproximadamente la mitad del que corre alguien que ha sido infectado sin vacunación.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, se anticipa a mi próxima pregunta sobre la COVID-19 prolongada. Le iba a preguntar ¿quién está más afectado? Supongo que es la gente que no ha sido vacunada. Pero, ¿hay otros indicadores de eso? Y también, ¿qué investigación se necesita para ayudarnos a comprender mejor la COVID-19 prolongada?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, los otros factores que sabemos que están asociados con los síntomas prolongados de COVID-19 incluyen la edad, por lo que es más probable que las personas mayores tengan síntomas prolongados de COVID-19, y las personas más jóvenes. Y al menos en algunos estudios también se asoció el sexo femenino. Los síntomas prolongados de COVID-19 son algo sobre lo que realmente necesitamos aprender mucho más. No tenemos tanta información como necesitamos.

 

También señalaría que aquí en EE.UU. recién ahora se está iniciando un estudio nacional muy amplio para abordar los problemas relacionados con la COVID-19 prolongada y obtener más información. Se llama Estudio de Recuperación, o “Recovery Study” en inglés, y está siendo financiado por los Institutos Nacionales de la Salud. Habrá más de cien sitios en todo el país. Entonces, si alguien está interesado en participar, incluso si no ha tenido COVID-19, creo que están inscribiendo a personas sin COVID-19 como controles, pero estoy seguro de que hay un sitio cerca de ustedes.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien. Bueno, cambiemos un poco de tema y hablemos de medidas preventivas. Ya sabe, todos hemos visto cambios en las pautas de uso de mascarillas en todo el país, los CDC levantaron sus pautas de uso de mascarillas y las comunidades de todo el país han hecho lo mismo. ¿Es hora de dejar las mascarillas para siempre? Me pregunto en qué circunstancias cree que la gente debería seguir usándola.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, creo que en nuestra situación actual, con índices muy bajos de nuevas infecciones por COVID-19 en todo el país, creo que realmente es una elección individual. Y creo que las cosas que son importantes serían el estado de vacunación. Entonces, si alguien no ha sido vacunado, entonces todavía tiene un riesgo muy alto de contraer COVID-19 y de enfermarse gravemente de COVID-19 en caso de contraerla. Entonces, si no se han vacunado, sin duda recomendaría que continúen usando mascarillas.

 

En segundo lugar, ciertas enfermedades, particularmente una enfermedad que resulta en la supresión del sistema inmunitario. Estas podrían ser personas que han recibido tratamientos contra el cáncer, personas que han recibido tratamiento contra afecciones como la artritis reumatoide, por ejemplo, con medicamentos que suprimen el sistema inmunitario.

 

Esos medicamentos también interfieren con la respuesta del organismo a las vacunas, y la respuesta en esas personas no es tan buena. Y, por lo tanto, esas personas no están tan bien protegidas, aunque hayan sido vacunadas. Por lo tanto, creo que a esas personas les recomendaría continuar usando mascarillas.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, Dr. Campbell, gracias. Muchas gracias. Pronto tendremos más preguntas para usted. Y como un recordatorio para nuestros oyentes, para hacer una pregunta presionen *3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono y llegaremos a esas preguntas en vivo en un momento. Pero antes de hacerlo, quiero traer a mi colega de AARP, Megan O'Reilly, vicepresidenta de Activismo. Bienvenida, Megan.

 

Megan O’Reilly: Encantada de estar aquí, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, además de compartir la información más reciente sobre el coronavirus, nos gustaría tomarnos un par de minutos para actualizar a nuestros oyentes sobre cómo AARP está luchando por ellos en el Capitolio. Megan, ¿alguna noticia para compartir con nosotros en relación con la defensa de derechos?

 

Megan O’Reilly: Sí, hay buenas noticias para quienes tienen seres queridos en hogares de ancianos. La semana pasada, el presidente anunció la necesidad de efectuar nuevas reformas importantes para los centros de atención a largo plazo. Estos cambios mejorarían la seguridad y la calidad de los hogares de ancianos, responsabilizarían a los establecimientos por la atención que brindan y harían que la calidad de la atención y la propiedad de los establecimientos fueran más transparentes. AARP ha estado luchando durante años para hacer que los hogares de ancianos sean más seguros. Así que estamos muy contentos de ver los cambios que se avecinan.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, eso es genial. Sabemos que la COVID-19 afectó mucho, particularmente los hogares de ancianos. ¿Puede hablar sobre algunas de las reformas que se están proponiendo?

 

Megan O’Reilly: Claro. Específicamente, según el plan anunciado, cada hogar de ancianos necesitaría proporcionar suficiente personal capacitado para brindar atención de calidad. Sabemos que aumentar los niveles de personal producirá un gran cambio. Otra reforma incluida tiene como objetivo explorar formas de abordar el hacinamiento al limitar la cantidad de residentes que se pueden asignar a una habitación.

 

Además, los hogares de ancianos que tengan un mal rendimiento deberán rendir cuentas por una atención insegura. Los centros deficientes tendrían que mejorar o correr el riesgo de perder los fondos de los contribuyentes. Y finalmente, habría mayor transparencia para que las familias puedan tener la información que necesitan para tomar mejores decisiones para sus seres queridos. Todos queremos que los residentes de hogares de ancianos tengan la seguridad y la calidad de atención que merecen.

 

Bill Walsh: Así es. Ahora, además de los hogares de ancianos, la mayor lucha de AARP en este momento es instar al Gobierno a que finalmente tome medidas para reducir los precios de los medicamentos recetados. ¿Es así?

 

Megan O’Reilly: Absolutamente. Sabemos que en el país las personas están pagando tres veces más de lo que pagan las personas en otros países por los mismos medicamentos recetados de marca. Es simplemente inaceptable. Debemos mantener la presión e instar al Senado a permitir que Medicare negocie los precios de los medicamentos y reduzca los costos de bolsillo.

 

Más del 80% de los votantes de todos los partidos apoyan este cambio, y ahorraría miles de millones de dólares a las personas mayores y a Medicare. Es hora de que nuestros funcionarios electos cumplan su promesa a los votantes y reduzcan los precios de los medicamentos recetados ahora.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Finalmente, Megan, si nuestros oyentes quieren estar al tanto de las noticias de defensa de AARP, tenemos una nueva página web que destaca las últimas actualizaciones e historias. Al igual que este segmento, el blog se llama Fighting for You.

 

Megan O’Reilly: Sí, durante este año electoral, es importante estar al tanto de las cuestiones que les afectan a ustedes y a todos los mayores de 50 años. Los alentamos a conectarse en línea y buscar AARP Fighting for You. Eso los llevará a un resumen diario de las últimas noticias y actualizaciones de defensa. Es realmente una excelente manera de mantenerse informados, y alentamos a todos a que lo consulten.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, eso es: AARP Fighting for You. Gracias por estar con nosotros, Megan.

 

Megan O’Reilly: Gracias.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, ahora es momento de abordar sus preguntas sobre la pandemia de coronavirus con el Dr. Thomas Campbell. Como recordatorio, presionen *3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP y compartir su pregunta en vivo. Y si desean escuchar este programa en español, presionen *0 en el teclado de su teléfono ahora.

 

[En español]

 

Bill Walsh: Ahora me gustaría invitar a mi colega de AARP, Jesse Salinas, para ayudar a facilitar sus llamadas. Bienvenido, Jesse.

 

Jesse Salinas: Un placer estar aquí, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, ¿de quién es nuestra primera llamada?

 

Jesse Salinas: La primera pregunta en realidad vendrá de YouTube. Tengo a Ijuana Mitchell, que pregunta: "Tengo 68 años. Estoy totalmente vacunada y recibí el refuerzo, pero tengo un alto riesgo debido a enfermedades subyacentes. ¿Debo pedirles a mi familia y amigos que se hagan una prueba de COVID-19 en casa antes de visitarme?

 

Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell, ¿qué respondería a eso?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, creo que hacer que su familia y amigos se hagan una prueba de COVID-19 en casa es probablemente el nivel más alto de protección que puede obtener. Sin embargo, quisiera advertirle que las pruebas caseras de COVID-19 en personas asintomáticas, en otras palabras, las personas que no tienen ningún síntoma de COVID-19, a menudo pueden pasar por alto una infección. Por lo tanto, ciertamente no es un 100% segura, pero eso es probablemente lo mejor que puede hacer.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias. Jesse, tomemos otra pregunta.

 

Jesse Salinas: Vamos a atender a Jane de California.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Jan, bienvenida al programa. Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Jan: Sí, me preguntaba con esta nueva apertura de todo, cómo las personas mayores como yo, que tengo 80 años, podemos atravesar la apertura, ya que estoy bastante saludable, vacunada y con refuerzo y tratando de que la gente venga de visita de fuera del estado y se quede conmigo. Y otras personas vienen a visitar a mis parientes principalmente y salen a cenar.

 

¿Cuál es la mejor manera de mantenerme a salvo? ¿Usar una mascarilla cuando están en mi casa? O simplemente, no lo sé, ¿cómo mantenerme a salvo? O si necesitamos usar mascarillas todo el tiempo cuando estamos cerca hasta que las cosas estén mejor. Porque realmente no quiero tenerlo a mi edad, aunque no tengo ningún problema de salud real.

 

Bill Walsh: Jane, muchas gracias por esa pregunta. Estamos en esta especie de período intermedio complicado, ¿no es así, Dr. Campbell? ¿Qué sugiere?

 

Thomas Campbell: Así es, y conoce el riesgo, nunca puede estar seguro a menos que se aísle totalmente. Sabe, es un poco análogo, creo, a conducir un automóvil, cada vez que nos subimos a un automóvil corremos el riesgo de tener un accidente automovilístico. Tratamos de hacer todo lo posible para minimizar ese riesgo, y creo que se puede hacer lo mismo con la COVID-19. Y realmente depende del riesgo que alguien esté dispuesto a correr y la edad y otras condiciones de salud subyacentes, que son factores importantes a considerar.

 

Como mencionaba con la última persona que llamó, la prueba antes de recibir visitas en su hogar podría ser una forma de reducir el riesgo. Ciertamente, el usar mascarilla reduciría aún más el riesgo, pero debe sopesar eso con la calidad de la visita que tiene. Así que creo que se convierte en una decisión muy individualizada sobre la cantidad de estas herramientas que tenemos para reducir el riesgo queramos emplear.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, muchas gracias por eso, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Jesse Salinas: Nuestra próxima llamada será de Don en Virginia.

 

Bill Walsh: Oye, Don, bienvenido al programa. Adelante con su pregunta.

 

Don: Bueno, me preguntaba, ¿cuánto durará el uso de mascarillas?

 

Bill Walsh: De acuerdo. Bueno, lo sé, en el estado de Virginia, los requisitos de uso de mascarillas han disminuido por todas partes. Dr. Campbell, ¿hay algún punto en el que simplemente no tengamos que preocuparnos por las mascarillas y el distanciamiento social?

 

Thomas Campbell: Bueno, de nuevo, como hemos hablado con las personas que llamaron anteriormente, creo que siempre será una decisión individual. Creo que en términos de decisiones de salud pública más generalizadas y requisitos para el uso de mascarillas, creo que continuaremos alejándonos de eso y lo veremos cada vez menos.

 

Creo que el virus SARS-CoV-2, el virus que causa la COVID-19, no va a desaparecer. Va a estar con nosotros por el resto de nuestra vida, y veremos surgir olas al igual que vemos olas de gripe y resfriado común. Y de nuevo, creo que cada persona debería decidir qué cantidad de estas herramientas quiere usar para protegerse. Pero creo que seguiremos viendo cada vez menos mandatos de nuestros funcionarios de salud pública.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, por supuesto, en tiempos normales o antes de COVID-19, la mayoría de las personas no usaban mascarillas para distanciarse socialmente, incluso durante la temporada de gripe. ¿Cree que vamos a llegar a esa etapa con la COVID-19?

 

Thomas Campbell: Bueno, creo que lo que hemos aprendido es que el distanciamiento social y el uso de mascarillas previenen no solo la COVID-19 sino también otros virus respiratorios. Y en los últimos dos años, la temporada de gripe ha sido mucho más leve de lo habitual. Así que creo que continuaremos usando estas herramientas particularmente para proteger a nuestra gente más vulnerable.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Jesse, tomemos otra llamada.

 

Jesse Salinas: Nuestra próxima llamada, Bill, será Tammy desde un código de área 860.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Tammy, bienvenida a nuestro programa. Continúe con su pregunta. Hola, Tammy, Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Tammy: Hola, mi esposo y yo tenemos más de 80 años. Y ambos hemos recibido dos dosis de la vacuna Moderna, más una vacuna de refuerzo. El refuerzo fue hace unos seis meses. ¿Necesitamos una cuarta dosis? Y es así, ¿cuándo sería el momento?

 

Bill Walsh: Gracias por esa pregunta, Tammy. Dr. Campbell, ¿puede hablarnos de eso? Hemos tenido muchas preguntas sobre cuántos refuerzos van a necesitar las personas en última instancia.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, es una muy buena pregunta, y una pregunta sobre la que no puedo darle una respuesta definitiva. Actualmente, las personas que no tienen enfermedades inmunosupresoras requieren un total de tres dosis de una vacuna de ARN, como la vacuna Moderna que recibió. Y la tercera dosis se denomina dosis de refuerzo. En este momento, eso es todo lo que se recomienda para las personas como usted.

 

Quienes tienen un sistema inmunitario debilitado debido a trasplantes de órganos o tratamientos contra el cáncer, etc. requieren una cuarta dosis en este momento. Si las personas no inmunodeprimidas requerirán una cuarta dosis y las inmunodeprimidas requerirán una quinta dosis, aún no lo sabemos. En este momento, a nivel nacional, vemos que los casos están disminuyendo, por lo que no hay una razón urgente para que las personas salgan y reciban una cuarta o quinta dosis en este momento.

 

Eso puede cambiar. Puede cambiar porque la protección que nos brinda el refuerzo disminuirá con el tiempo. Y puede cambiar con la aparición de nuevas variantes del virus SARS-CoV-2. Así que creo que debemos prestar mucha atención a esas cosas y guiar nuestras recomendaciones en función de ese tipo de información cuando esté disponible.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, volvamos a las líneas telefónicas.

 

Jesse Salinas: Sí, nuestra próxima pregunta será de Pam, de Carolina del Sur.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Pam, bienvenida a nuestro programa. Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Pam: Hola, gracias. Mi esposo tuvo COVID-19 hace más de un año y perdió el sentido del gusto y del olfato. Bueno, todavía no lo ha recuperado, por lo que me pregunto si hay algo que se pueda hacer, o alguna recomendación sobre cómo podría recuperar esos sentidos.

 

Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell, ¿qué sabemos sobre eso? ¿Es este un caso de COVID-19 prolongada? Y si es así, ¿existen tratamientos que puedan ayudar al esposo de Pam?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, parece COVID-19 prolongada, y la pérdida persistente del gusto y el olfato después de la recuperación de COVID-19 es uno de los síntomas más comunes en las personas que tienen COVID-19 prolongada. Así que creo que esa es la explicación. En cuanto a qué hacer al respecto, en este momento no tenemos tratamientos para la COVID-19 prolongada, específicamente para la pérdida del gusto y el olfato.

 

Escuché anécdotas de personas que intentan entrenar sus sentidos del olfato y del gusto para que regresen mediante una especie de programa gradual de varios tipos de olores y sabores. Y luego también ha habido anécdotas de personas con COVID-19 prolongada cuyos síntomas mejoran después de vacunarse. Entonces, si su esposo no ha sido vacunado y no ha recibido el refuerzo, lo alentaría a que lo haga.

 

Bill Walsh: Y doctor, me pregunto si ha escuchado casos en los que esos síntomas prolongados de COVID-19 simplemente han desaparecido con el tiempo, ¿es posible que las personas que no tienen o han perdido el sentido del gusto eventualmente lo recuperen? ¿O tiene...?

 

Thomas Campbell: Absolutamente, es posible y ese es el caso de muchos pacientes.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, muy bien. Jesse, volvamos a la lista, ¿a quién tenemos ahora?

 

Jesse Salinas: Hay bastantes preguntas, Bill. La pregunta sobre la vitamina D y cómo la vitamina D ayuda o no ayuda con la COVID-19 o las complicaciones de la COVID-19. Si podemos responder a esa pregunta, sería genial.

 

Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell, ¿qué sabemos sobre los efectos de la vitamina B en la COVID-19 y los síntomas?

 

Thomas Campbell: Oh, lo siento, ¿habla de vitamina B o vitamina D?

 

Jesse Salinas: D, como David.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí. Bueno, la vitamina D es una vitamina importante para la resistencia a las infecciones, no solo a la COVID-19 sino a otras infecciones. Creo que las personas mayores suelen tener deficiencias de vitamina D. Las personas que viven en latitudes del norte donde el sol no brilla mucho en el invierno también tienen deficiencias, porque la vitamina D se produce en la piel en respuesta a la exposición a la luz solar.

 

Así que primero, lo que sugiero es que si aún no se lo han hecho, periódicamente una vez al año, dos o tres años, se controlen el nivel de vitamina D como parte de su examen de salud de rutina. Y si tienen niveles bajos de vitamina D, entonces deberían tomar un suplemento de vitamina D. Si tienen niveles normales de vitamina D, no conozco ninguna evidencia de que recibir suplementos de vitamina D sea beneficioso.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Muchas gracias, Dr. Campbell. Y como recordatorio para nuestros oyentes, presionen *3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP y hacer su pregunta en vivo. Jesse, ¿de quién es nuestra próxima llamada?

 

Jesse Salinas: Sí, voy a traer a Kathy de Connecticut a la línea.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Kathy, bienvenida a nuestro programa. Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Kathy: Hola, gracias. Dr. Campbell, tengo un par de nietos menores de tres años que me preocupan particularmente. Me pregunto cuál es la vacuna que cree que podría estar disponible para ellos. ¿Y qué más podemos hacer? Ya usamos mascarilla cuando salimos. Así que seguimos haciendo eso. No sé qué más hacer para mantener a salvo a estos dos pequeños.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí. ¿Dr. Campbell?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí. Hola Kathy. Desafortunadamente, vacunar a los niños pequeños no ha sido tan simple como esperábamos. Los niños pequeños no son simplemente adultos pequeños, son muy diferentes biológicamente, su sistema inmunitario es muy diferente. Y en los estudios que se han realizado hasta ahora, particularmente con la vacuna de Pfizer, las respuestas a la vacuna, los niveles de anticuerpos producidos en niños pequeños no se han considerado adecuados.

 

Entonces, Pfizer todavía está trabajando para obtener la dosis adecuada para los niños pequeños. Y creo que eso sucederá, solo está tomando más tiempo de lo que habíamos anticipado. En términos de qué hacer, afortunadamente, los niños pequeños tienden a no enfermarse tanto como los adultos cuando contraen COVID-19. Pero aún debemos hacer todo lo posible para protegerlos.

 

Ciertamente, entre los adultos que interactúan con los niños, o los niños mayores que interactúan con los niños, sería importante asegurarse de que todos estén vacunados. Y, ya sabe, usen mascarilla, eso es algo que puede reducir el riesgo aún más, pero es una cuestión de si es necesario o no en sus circunstancias hacerlo. Pero ciertamente, si uno tiene síntomas de una infección respiratoria, incluso solo un resfriado, entonces sería importante usar una mascarilla o evitar el contacto.

 

Bill Walsh: Doctor, me pregunto si tiene alguna idea de qué tan lejos está esa vacuna para los niños muy pequeños. Usted habló sobre algunas de las investigaciones en curso, ¿pensamos que podrían ser semanas, meses? ¿Años?

 

Thomas Campbell: No tengo ninguna información interna, primero. Y solo por lo que he leído en comunicados de prensa y otra información que se ha hecho pública, creo que faltan varios meses, o más.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, muy bien. Jesse, volvamos a la línea. Entonces, ¿a quién tenemos ahora?

 

Jesse Salinas: Sí, la siguiente pregunta proviene de YouTube, y es de Kim, quien dice: "Hay una preocupación en mi comunidad de que los kits de prueba de COVID-19 pueden causar cáncer y que las pruebas semanales aumentan ese riesgo. ¿Es esto cierto?"

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, déjame plantearle esto a Alex Mahadevan. Alex, por supuesto, es el gerente de programas de MediaWise, que hace mucho para ayudar a las personas a detectar información errónea en línea, incluidas las capacitaciones. Alex, ¿puede responder esa pregunta?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Sí, sí, eso es falso. Eso es totalmente falso. Estos kits de prueba no causan cáncer, por lo que no deben preocuparse por las pruebas semanales. Lo que diré es que esto es lo que en mi industria llamamos un reclamo “zombie”. Esta es una pieza de desinformación que ha surgido constantemente, desde que la gente comenzó a hacerse pruebas. Así que no, no tiene que preocuparse por eso.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, gracias, Alex. Y vamos a obtener más información de Alex un poco más adelante en el programa. Volvamos a las líneas telefónicas. Jesse, ¿a quién tenemos ahora?

 

Jesse Salinas: Sí, nuestra próxima pregunta será de Bernie, en Massachusetts.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Bernie, bienvenido a nuestro programa. Adelante con su pregunta.

 

Bernie: Mi pregunta es para el Dr. Campbell porque yo también soy un Campbell. La pregunta que tengo es sobre el control eficaz del medicamento remdesivir cuando a una persona ya se le ha diagnosticado fibrilación auricular, además de ser positiva para el virus.

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Bernie, está preguntando sobre la efectividad o los riesgos para la salud?

 

Jesse Salinas: Creo que lo perdimos.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien, Dr. Campbell, tal vez pueda abordar el uso de ese tratamiento en particular.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí. Hola, Bernie, encantado de conocerlo, y gracias por esa pregunta. El remdesivir es un medicamento antiviral que se usa para tratar la COVID-19 una vez que ocurre la enfermedad. No se usa para la prevención, solo se usa para el tratamiento. Y se puede usar tanto en el entorno de pacientes hospitalizados, es decir, en personas que deben ser hospitalizadas, como en el entorno de pacientes ambulatorios, para las personas que tienen COVID-19.

 

Y en el ámbito ambulatorio, es muy eficaz para prevenir la hospitalización. Tiene que ser administrado por vía intravenosa. Para eso, uno tendría que ir a un centro de infusión para recibirlo, donde sería controlado muy de cerca. Y para la prevención de la hospitalización en el ámbito ambulatorio se administran tres dosis, una vez al día durante tres días consecutivos. En el ámbito hospitalario, son cinco dosis una vez al día.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, Dr. Campbell. Muchas gracias, Jesse. Tomemos otra llamada.

 

Jesse Salinas: Sí, traeremos a Blaine, de Oregón.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Blaine, bienvenido a nuestro programa. Adelante con su pregunta.

 

Blaine: Sí, mi pregunta se refiere a cómo podemos depositar algún tipo de confianza y fe en las estadísticas que escuchamos sobre la eficacia de las vacunas, cuando los CDC dejaron de contar los casos de infección posvacunación por COVID-19 en mayo del 2020. Entonces, ¿cómo sabemos realmente la eficacia de estas cosas? Porque también escuché que el grupo de control fue básicamente persuadido para que también se vacunaran. Entonces, ¿dónde estamos parados para entender esto?

 

Bill Walsh: Adelante. No quise interrumpir, Blaine.

 

Jesse Salinas: Es posible que lo hayamos perdido, Bill.

 

Bill Walsh: Ah, está bien. Lo siento. Entonces Blaine preguntaba, ¿cómo podemos confiar en las estadísticas, particularmente en lo que respecta a la eficacia de las vacunas?

 

Thomas Campbell: Blaine, hay dos maneras diferentes en las que hemos evaluado la eficacia de las vacunas. Una es en ensayos clínicos donde los pacientes se ofrecen como voluntarios para ser parte de un estudio de investigación. Y luego, en esos ensayos, se les administra una vacuna o un placebo. Y tiene razón, en esos ensayos, una vez que se determinó que las vacunas funcionaban realmente bien, a los pacientes que recibieron placebo se les ofreció la oportunidad de recibir la vacuna, y casi todos aceptaron la oportunidad y la recibieron.

 

Pero la otra forma en que evaluamos la eficacia de las vacunas es mediante el seguimiento del efecto de las vacunas, ya que se han utilizado a gran escala, no solo en Estados Unidos sino en todo el mundo. Y mencionó que los CDC tienen datos sobre la eficacia de la vacuna, y en esos estudios, lo que están comparando es el índice de infección por COVID-19, el índice de hospitalización, el índice de muerte en las personas que eligieron vacunarse versus aquellas que eligieron no recibir la vacuna.

 

Asimismo, por ejemplo, en Estados Unidos el índice de muerte es diez veces mayor en las personas que eligen no vacunarse. Ahora, los CDC son solo una fuente de información y una fuente de datos. Pero lo que es muy poderoso es que otros estudios en otros países de todo el mundo, Estados Unidos, los Países Bajos, Dinamarca, Finlandia, Sudáfrica, Israel, países de América del Sur, todos han llegado a la misma conclusión de que estas vacunas son altamente eficaces. Así que no son solo los datos de los CDC, son datos mundiales de cientos de millones de personas.

 

Bill Walsh: Gracias por eso. Dr. Campbell. Alex, quería hacerle una pregunta respecto a esto, ¿ve mucho en línea sobre personas que cuestionan la eficacia de las vacunas?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Sí, desafortunadamente, esa es una de las mayores desinformaciones que vemos en línea. Y, desafortunadamente, había una minoría antivacunas muy fuerte y ruidosa que prácticamente se estaba preparando para una situación como esta. Y una vez que se lanzaron las vacunas, vimos información errónea tras información errónea. Y es algo contra lo que todavía estamos luchando hasta el día de hoy, en lo que respecta a la verificación de hechos.

 

Bill Walsh: Y Alex, en los casos en los que ve ese tipo de información errónea, ¿qué le dice a la gente? ¿Los envía al sitio web de los CDC? ¿Qué otras fuentes hay para que la gente lo compruebe?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Realmente, los CDC son el primer lugar para enviar personas. Creo que van directo a la fuente.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. De acuerdo. Gracias, Alex y Dr. Campbell, y gracias a nuestros oyentes por todas sus preguntas. Vamos a tomar más preguntas en breve. Y como recordatorio, si desean ingresar a la fila para hacer su pregunta en vivo, presionen *3, o si están en YouTube o Facebook, simplemente colóquenla en la sección de comentarios. Permítanme volver a nuestro experto por un momento.

 

Dr. Campbell, la semana pasada, los funcionarios de salud de EE.UU. presentaron una guía nacional para manejar la COVID-19 en el futuro. Incluye antivirales gratuitos como tratamiento inmediato después de la infección, inversión en producción nacional, almacenamiento de pruebas y un proceso de aprobación acelerado de vacunas específicas para variantes concretas. ¿Estos cambios preventivos están ideados para centrarse en el riesgo de nuevas variantes que podríamos ver?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, así es. Pero también tienen la intención de centrarse en las variantes que también hemos visto, de modo que el plan estratégico que se describe tiene básicamente cuatro pilares clave, por así decirlo. Uno es mejorar la protección contra la COVID-19 y tratarla en caso de que ocurra. El segundo es la preparación para nuevas variantes. El tercero es prevenir los efectos económicos de la COVID-19, así como los efectos educativos en los niños. Y luego, el cuarto es liderar el esfuerzo para brindar acceso a las vacunas en todo el mundo.

 

Entonces, las preguntas que ha hecho realmente se relacionan con los dos primeros objetivos, y no podemos predecir lo que hará el virus en términos de variación. Todo lo que podemos decir es que tenemos que estar preparados para nuevas variantes, y debemos esperar que ocurran nuevas variantes. Lo que hemos visto con las variantes hasta ahora es que las vacunas aún funcionan muy bien, pero solo si se ha recibido una dosis de refuerzo.

 

Sin una dosis de refuerzo, no funcionan muy bien. Entonces, si uno no ha recibido una dosis de refuerzo, es muy importante hacerlo. Y luego, en segundo lugar, en términos de tratamientos, nuestros tratamientos antivirales como el remdesivir, como hablábamos antes, todavía son muy eficaces contra las variantes, las variantes no los afectan en absoluto.

 

Aunque nuestro otro grupo de tratamientos, llamados anticuerpos monoclonales, se ven afectados por variantes. Y por eso hemos tenido que refinar los anticuerpos monoclonales para tratar la COVID-19 a medida que aparecen nuevas variantes, y creo que seguiremos haciéndolo en el futuro. Y creo que el plan del presidente solo proporciona una estrategia y una guía para hacer esas cosas.

 

Bill Walsh: Tengo curiosidad, Dr. Campbell, de saber si ve otras variantes al acecho que le preocupen.

 

Thomas Campbell: Bueno, la única otra variante en el horizonte en este momento es una variante secundaria de la variante ómicron. La variante ómicron que llegó a Estados Unidos en diciembre o enero, a la que nos referimos como BA-1. Hay una variante secundaria llamada BA-2 que está muy relacionada con BA-1, pero es incluso más infecciosa de lo que era BA-1. Lo que hemos visto como patrón es que cada variante tiende a ser más infecciosa que la anterior.

 

Entonces, aquí en Estados Unidos, la variante alfa que teníamos hace un año era más infecciosa que la cepa original de Wuhan. Y luego delta era más infecciosa que alfa, la BA-1 ómicron era más infecciosa que delta. Y ahora BA-2 es más infecciosa que BA-1. Y estamos viendo que BA-2 en Estados Unidos es una proporción muy pequeña en este momento. Pero en Inglaterra, ahora son más del 50% de los casos. Y creo que veremos un patrón similar aquí. Ya sea que haya o no un aumento en los casos nuevos, no anticipo eso en el futuro cercano, pero ciertamente podría volver a suceder cuando lleguemos a la temporada de otoño, resfriados y gripe.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias por eso, Dr. Campbell. Permítanme cambiar de tema ahora que hemos hablado un poco sobre la información errónea sobre la COVID-19 y, por supuesto, la información errónea continúa socavando los esfuerzos de salud pública para poner fin a la pandemia. Ahora que la pandemia entra en su tercer año, abordaremos cierta información errónea durante las próximas semanas en un segmento de cuatro minutos que llamamos verificación de hechos.

 

Le pediremos a nuestro experto, Alex Mahadevan, que ayude a desacreditar afirmaciones engañosas y comprender por qué la información errónea es tan problemática. Alex, por supuesto, es de MediaWise, que se dedica a detectar información errónea en línea y ayudar a los consumidores a detectarla también.

 

MediaWise colabora con AARP para ayudar a los adultos mayores del país a aprender a separar los hechos de la ficción en línea. Alex, la semana pasada, el cirujano general de EE.UU., el Dr. Vivek Murthy, anunció una investigación sobre la información errónea sobre salud en línea. ¿Cuál es el alcance de esta iniciativa? ¿Y qué espera aprender el Dr. Murthy de ello?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Bueno, esto es bastante grande. Es un alcance realmente amplio. El Dr. Murthy, quien diré que ha estado a la vanguardia de llamar la atención sobre la desinformación sobre la salud desde que comenzó, realmente solicitó formalmente que las grandes empresas tecnológicas, ya sabe, Facebook, Google y Twitter, e incluso empresas de comercio electrónico como Amazon, entreguen todo dato e investigaciones que tengan sobre la propagación de información errónea sobre la COVID-19. Y eso podría incluir la cantidad de personas a las que llegan, no sé, publicaciones falsas que afirman que las vacunas contienen microchips.

 

También solicitan una lista de grupos o personas específicas que han estado difundiendo información errónea dañina. Entonces, Murthy y toda la administración de Biden están estableciendo un plan para manejar la COVID-19 a largo plazo. Y eso incluye la preparación para la información errónea que pueda surgir sobre nuevas variantes o tratamientos o, en realidad, cualquier tipo de información errónea sobre la COVID-19 que aún no hayamos visto.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, déjeme continuar con eso. Ahora, por supuesto, hemos visto información errónea durante años en línea y en las redes sociales sobre una variedad de temas. ¿Qué herramientas están disponibles para el cirujano general para ayudar a frenar la información errónea en línea?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Bueno, creo que todo se reduce a la educación. Creo que esa es la herramienta más fuerte para comunicar sobre los peligros de la desinformación en línea. Creo que el Dr. Murthy tiene una plataforma muy grande. Y lo mejor que puede hacer es, una vez que revisa todos estos datos e investigaciones y realmente obtiene una buena idea sobre la propagación de la información errónea de COVID-19, crear un buen programa de divulgación educativa.

 

Lo que diré es que creo que los oyentes aquí, ustedes mismos tienen las herramientas para frenar la información errónea en línea al no compartirla. Y realmente pueden hacerlo de manera muy simple. Lo desglosamos. Háganse estas tres preguntas cada vez que vean algo sobre la COVID-19, ¿quién está detrás de la información? ¿Quién compartió la publicación? ¿Son expertos, como el Dr. Campbell? ¿Citan alguna fuente o algo por el estilo? Esa es la segunda pregunta. ¿Qué pruebas tienen?

 

Ya saben, si no citaron ningún dato, investigación o evidencia, sería mejor no compartirlo. Y luego, la última pregunta con la que queremos ayudar es, ¿qué dicen otras fuentes sobre la publicación, la imagen o el video que están viendo? Consulten las fuentes de noticias como Associated Press o vayan directamente a los CDC, como mencionamos anteriormente. Lean múltiples fuentes. Realmente, espero que el Dr. Murthy pueda difundir la educación. Pero realmente, las herramientas están en el bolsillo de cada uno.

 

Bill Walsh: Ese es un gran punto, Alex. Ahora, el cirujano general también está buscando información de maestros, trabajadores de la salud y organizaciones comunitarias. ¿Por qué es eso? ¿Cuál es la conexión allí?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Bueno, es fácil pensar en la desinformación como una especie de problema en línea que se limita a las redes sociales, especialmente para alguien como yo que, lamentablemente, tiene que pasar mucho tiempo en las redes sociales. Pero en realidad no es así. No se limita a las falsedades en internet. Las falsedades en línea conducen a peligros en el mundo real. Y los maestros y los trabajadores de la salud están realmente en primera línea para confrontar la información errónea que escuchan de las comunidades en el mundo real.

 

Los médicos y enfermeras que ya han sido llevados al límite durante la pandemia también han tenido que convertirse en verificadores de facto, desacreditar la información errónea sobre las vacunas con sus pacientes, ya sabe, solo una nueva responsabilidad añadida a la enorme cantidad de responsabilidades que ya tienen. Por lo tanto, puedo ver que su aporte y el esfuerzo del Dr. Murthy agregarán mucha más profundidad a los datos y la investigación de las empresas de tecnología que también se incluirán.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, ahora, ¿ha habido alguna vez una investigación de desinformación como esta en el pasado?

 

Alex Mahadevan: Bueno, estoy seguro de que los oyentes recordarán esas escenas dramáticas cuando Mark Zuckerberg de Facebook o Jack Dorsey de Twitter testificaron ante el Congreso sobre información errónea en sus plataformas, entre otras cosas. Y el año pasado, el presidente Joe Biden formó un grupo de trabajo que tiene un nombre largo y elegante en el que no entraré, pero es un grupo de trabajo para investigar la desinformación y la democracia.

 

Pero lo que diré es que las solicitudes del Dr. Murthy a las empresas de tecnología son realmente la primera acción concreta que recuerdo contra la desinformación sobre la salud que he visto, de verdad. Y para ser claros, para agregar, no tiene mucho sentido que en este momento no parece haber ninguna sanción formal si estas empresas tecnológicas no quieren entregar sus datos sobre la desinformación de COVID-19, pero es una solicitud muy fuerte, y es algo que dudo que las empresas quieran ignorar.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Bueno, Alex, finalmente me pregunto si hay alguna nueva iniciativa de desinformación sobre la que quiera llamar nuestra atención.

 

Alex Mahadevan: Sí, aquí mismo en mi estado natal de Florida, el cirujano general recientemente recomendó no administrar a los niños sanos la vacuna contra la COVID-19. Y por eso quiero decir que estoy viendo mucha desinformación preocupante sobre los niños y las vacunas. Hay algunas afirmaciones que dicen falsamente que los niños se ven perjudicados por la vacuna o que tal vez corren el riesgo de sufrir miocarditis. En realidad, es más probable que los niños contraigan eso al contagiarse de COVID-19, no al vacunarse.

 

Además, estamos viendo a mucha gente distorsionar los hechos, distorsionar los datos, tratar de afirmar que los niños sanos no se ven afectados por la COVID-19. Y tengo que decirles que definitivamente hay algunas unidades pediátricas sobrecargadas que hemos visto en todo el país este año que no estarían de acuerdo. Y la desinformación sobre las vacunas y los niños pueden estar influyendo en la política.

 

Hablamos sobre cómo seguimos viendo información errónea sobre las vacunas, una afirmación que apareció recientemente y que estaba dando vueltas en la blogosfera era que las personas que han sido vacunadas son más propensas y susceptibles al VIH o SIDA, ¿sabe? Y esto, nuevamente, es otra cosa impulsada por la multitud antivacunas.

 

Y, por último, tengo que decir que, como hemos estado hablando de las mascarillas, lamento traerlo de vuelta a Florida, mi estado natal, pero recientemente nuestro gobernador le dijo al grupo de niños que las mascarillas no hacen nada. Y si bien el uso de mascarillas se está convirtiendo cada vez más en una opción individual, es falso afirmar que las mascarillas no hacen nada para prevenir la propagación de COVID-19. Y creo que a medida que avanzamos en este mundo posterior al mandato a la mascarilla, debemos esperar que circule mucha más información errónea sobre estas.

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien, Alex, muchas gracias por esos comentarios. Volvamos a las líneas telefónicas. Ahora es momento de abordar más de sus preguntas con el Dr. Thomas Campbell y Alex Mahadevan. Como recordatorio, presionen *3 en cualquier momento en el teclado de su teléfono para conectarse con un miembro del personal de AARP y hacer su pregunta en vivo. Jesse, ¿a quién tenemos ahora?

 

Jesse Salinas: Tengo una pregunta para Alex que se puede aclarar. ¿Cuáles son las afirmaciones que existen sobre cómo las mascarillas pueden ser peligrosas para niños o adultos? ¿Es esto información errónea o hay algo de verdad?

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, Alex, ¿por qué no intenta responder? Tal vez el Dr. Campbell quiera comentarlo también.

 

Alex Mahadevan: Sí, definitivamente prefiero diferir eso. Pero puedo decirles que hubo muchas afirmaciones falsas que afirmaron que las mascarillas provocan problemas respiratorios y otras cosas por el estilo, que desacreditamos al principio de la pandemia. No he visto tantas últimamente. Pero supongo que podría pasarle la pregunta al Dr. Campbell.

 

Bill Walsh: Dr. Campbell. Sí, adelante.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, no hay evidencia creíble de que las mascarillas sean perjudiciales para la salud de adultos o niños.

 

Bill Walsh: Está bien. Muy bien. Jesse. Volvamos a las líneas telefónicas. ¿A quién tenemos ahora?

 

Jesse Salinas: Voy a traer a Sarah, de Luisiana.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Sarah, bienvenida al programa. Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Sarah: Sí, estaba leyendo que si uno ha recibido un refuerzo y nunca ha tenido COVID-19, lo más probable es que ya no la contraiga, ¿es cierto?

 

Bill Walsh: ¿Dr. Campbell?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí. Gracias por esa pregunta. El refuerzo es la medida más eficaz que tenemos en este momento para prevenir la COVID-19. No es 100% eficaz y aún puede contagiarse. Y, de hecho, yo estaba completamente vacunado y con refuerzo y aun así contraje ómicron. Entonces, sucede. Pero es la mejor protección que tenemos.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, gracias, Dr. Campbell. Tomemos otra pregunta, Jesse.

 

Jesse Salinas: Vamos a atender a Jenny, de Kentucky.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Jenny, bienvenida a nuestro programa. Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Jenny: Hola, canto en un coro, el coro de una iglesia y muchos de nosotros estamos vacunados, probablemente en un 90%. Hemos estado cantando con la mascarilla puesta. Están a punto de quitar la mascarilla y mi pregunta es, ¿qué tan seguro es eso? Resido con una persona mayor e inmunocomprometida. Gracias.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí. Gracias, Jenny. Dr. Campbell.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, esa es una muy buena pregunta. Hubo un estudio muy temprano en la pandemia de un coro del estado de Washington cuando el virus llegó por primera vez a EE.UU., de que el coro era una forma muy eficaz de propagación del virus. Por lo tanto, es muy probable que se propague si el virus se encuentra en esa situación. Y creo que si hay personas que no están vacunadas en ese coro, creo que es muy, muy arriesgado.

 

Como decía, en respuesta a la última pregunta, las vacunas funcionan muy bien pero no al 100%. Entonces, si hubiera una persona infectada cantando que no está vacunada, o incluso una persona vacunada, aún podría contagiar a otros. Entonces, creo que realmente se reduce a cuál es el nivel de infección de la comunidad. Y si no se producen infecciones en su comunidad, entonces la posibilidad de que alguien la propague es muy, muy pequeña; no cero, pero muy, muy pequeña.

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, me pregunto, todavía tenemos personas que se niegan a vacunarse. Parece el caso de Jenny, la mayoría de las personas en su coro lo están, pero ¿parece razonable pedirles a otros miembros que no están vacunados que se hagan una prueba rápida antes de los ensayos o actuaciones?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, eso reducirá aún más el riesgo, Bill. Así que es otra herramienta que tenemos. Como mencioné, en respuesta a una de las preguntas anteriores, las pruebas en personas asintomáticas a menudo dan un falso negativo. Así que no va a eliminar completamente el riesgo, pero lo reducirá.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, y dado que estamos hablando de pruebas rápidas, quiero recordarles a las personas que tienen derecho a recibir cuatro pruebas gratuitas. Pueden conectarse en línea o llamar a un número gratuito para solicitarlas. Pueden conectarse en línea en www.covidtests.gov. Eso es www.covidtests.gov o pueden llamar al 800-232-0233. Eso es 800-232-0233. Una vez que se registren, la prueba se enviará por correo a su hogar. Muy bien, Jesse, volvamos a las líneas telefónicas. ¿A quién tenemos ahora?

 

Jesse Salinas: Sí, traeremos a Carolyn, de Ohio.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Carolyn, bienvenida a nuestro programa. Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Carolyn: Mi pregunta es que tengo 98 años y tomo warfarina, lo vengo haciendo desde hace un par de años. Y también solo peso 81 libras. Y eso es todo lo que peso cada vez que voy al médico. Y ese es el único lugar donde voy; al médico. Y luego vengo y hago la prueba, y me preocupa recibir una sobredosis de la vacuna.

 

Bill Walsh: Interesante pregunta de Carolyn. Dr. Campbell, ¿puede abordar esto? ¿Hay preocupaciones sobre sobredosis de vacunas o refuerzos?

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí, hola, Carolyn, gracias por esa pregunta, y felicidades por cumplir 98 años. No hay preocupación sobre una interacción entre la vacuna y Coumadin o para alguien con su peso corporal. Usamos la misma dosis de vacuna en adolescentes de 12 años en adelante. Me refiero a la vacuna de Pfizer. Por lo tanto, no me preocuparía que se vacune debido a su peso corporal, a su edad o al hecho de que toma Coumadin.

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, gracias por eso, Dr. Campbell. Jesse, volvamos a las líneas, ¿a quién tenemos ahora?

 

Jesse Salinas: Nuestra próxima llamada será Jerry, de Oregón.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Jerry, bienvenido al programa. Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Bill Walsh: Adelante, Jerry.

 

Jerry: ¿Puede oírme?

 

Bill Walsh: Sí, podemos oírlo. Continúe con su pregunta, Jerry. Parece que hemos perdido...

 

Jerry: Oh, ¿me está hablando a mí?

 

Bill Walsh: Así es. Adelante con su pregunta.

 

Jerry: Sí, tengo algunos nietos, y no están vacunados. Nosotros estamos completamente vacunados, pero hace mucho tiempo que no los veo. Quiero decir, verlos, pero no puedo invitarlos a casa. Solo me pregunto si es seguro invitarlos. De hecho, lo tuvieron y se enteraron hace aproximadamente un mes...

 

Bill Walsh: Muy bien. Bueno, preguntémosle al Dr. Campbell sobre eso.

Dr. Campbell.

 

Thomas Campbell: Sí. Bueno, si está completamente vacunado y recibió el refuerzo, esas son las mejores herramientas que tiene para protegerse. Como hemos estado discutiendo, no es un 100% eficaz. Y ciertamente aún pueden infectarse, particularmente con la variante ómicron. Pero las vacunas son importantes, y ese es, creo, un mensaje importante de que incluso si uno se infecta, las vacunas lo protegen de una infección grave y hace que su riesgo de hospitalización y su riesgo de morir se reduzca mucho.

 

Y también diría que la infección natural es muy protectora contra la infección posterior. Entonces, si sus nietos recientemente tuvieron una infección por COVID-19 confirmada mediante una prueba casera o una prueba de PCR, si fue en los últimos dos meses, lo más probable es que fuera la variante ómicron, y deberían estar muy bien protegidos en el futuro, al menos durante los próximos seis meses más o menos. No sabemos cuánto durará esa protección.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, muchas gracias Dr. Campbell. Jesse, tomemos otra llamada.

 

Jesse Salinas: A continuación vamos a atender a Joyce, de Nueva York.

 

Bill Walsh: Hola, Joyce, bienvenida a nuestro programa. Continúe con su pregunta.

 

Joyce: Bueno, hablando de información falsa, incluso la leí en The Times y en mi teléfono, que se dice que la vacuna afecta el ADN, a diferencia del ARN. Y me preguntaba ¿qué rayos es todo eso?

 

Bill Walsh: Bueno, preguntémosle al Dr. Campbell. Dr. Campbell, ¿qué puede decirle a Joyce y a los demás?

 

Thomas Campbell: La vacuna Pfizer y la vacuna Moderna son vacunas basadas en ARN, y el organismo está repleto de ARN, tenemos miles de millones de moléculas de ARN en nosotros todos los días de nuestra vida. Y la vacuna solo agrega un ARN adicional que nos dice que hagamos la proteína pico del virus para que el organismo produzca una respuesta inmunitaria.

 

Estamos llenos de ARN, el ARN no se convierte en ADN, no se convierte en ADN excepto en circunstancias muy especiales, como ciertos virus, específicamente lo que llamamos retrovirus, como el VIH. Y solo sucede con el VIH porque el VIH tiene una enzima llamada transcriptasa inversa que le permite al virus producir ADN a partir de su ARN. Pero nosotros mismos no tenemos transcriptasa inversa, y no hacemos ADN a partir de nuestro ARN y no hacemos ADN a partir de nuestras vacunas contra la COVID-19.

 

Bill Walsh: Bien, Dr. Campbell, gracias por esa explicación. Esta ha sido una discusión muy informativa. Quiero agradecer a nuestros dos panelistas por responder nuestras preguntas hoy y a nuestros socios, voluntarios y oyentes de AARP por participar en esta discusión. AARP es una organización de membresía, sin fines de lucro y sin afiliación política, que ha estado trabajando para promover la salud y el bienestar de los adultos mayores de Estados Unidos durante más de 60 años.

 

Ante esta crisis, estamos brindando información y recursos para ayudar a los adultos mayores y a quienes los cuidan a protegerse del virus y prevenir la propagación, mientras se cuidan a sí mismos. Todos los recursos a los que se hizo referencia hoy, incluida una grabación del evento de preguntas y respuestas, se podrán encontrar en aarp.org\coronavirus a partir de mañana, 11 de marzo.

 

Vayan allí si su pregunta no fue respondida y encontrarán las últimas actualizaciones, así como información creada específicamente para adultos mayores y cuidadores familiares. Y si necesitan asistencia de Medicare durante la COVID-19, visiten el siguiente sitio web: shiphelp.org\covid-19. Eso es S-H-I-P H-E-L-P punto O-R-G barra invertida COVID-19.

 

Esperamos que hoy hayan aprendido algo que pueda ayudarlos a ustedes y a sus seres queridos a mantenerse saludables. Vuelvan a participar el 24 de marzo para escuchar una sesión especial de preguntas y respuestas sobre el coronavirus en vivo, donde hablaremos sobre el impacto de la COVID-19 en todo el país.

 

Y no querrán perderse la celebración de AARP del 24 al 26 de marzo para un fin de semana lleno de diversión y eventos gratuitos en línea, que incluyen charlas con celebridades, películas clásicas, conciertos y otras actividades. Visiten aarp.org\celebrates para conocer más detalles. Esperamos que puedan acompañarnos. Gracias, que tengan un buen día. Esto concluye nuestra llamada.

 

Coronavirus: What We’ve Learned and Moving Forward

Listen to a replay of the live event above.

This month marks two years since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which has tested our resilience. Older adults have been particularly hit hard and still have concerns about returning to a “new normal.” This Q&A event addresses how COVID has affected our health and well-being, what we can expect moving forward related to boosters, and the impact of misinformation on public health efforts.

The Experts

Thomas Campbell, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases,
University of Colorado School of Medicine and Anschutz Medical Campus Multidisciplinary Center on Aging

Alex Mahadevan
Program Manager, MediaWise


For the latest coronavirus news and advice, go to AARP.org/coronavirus.


Replay previous AARP Coronavirus Tele-Town Halls

  • May 5 - Coronavirus: Life Beyond the Pandemic
  • April 14Coronavirus: Boosters, Testing and Nursing Home Safety
  • March 24Coronavirus: Impact on Older Adults and Looking Ahead
  • March 10Coronavirus: What We’ve Learned and Moving Forward
  • February 24Coronavirus: Current State, What to Expect, and Heart Health
  • February 10 - Coronavirus: Omicron, Vaccines and Mental Wellness
  • January 27 - Coronavirus: Omicron, Looking Ahead, and the Impact on Nursing Homes
  • January 13 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe During Changing Times
  • December 16 - Coronavirus: What You Need to Know About Boosters, Vaccines & Variants
  • December 9 - Coronavirus: Boosters, Vaccines and Your Health
  • November 18 - Coronavirus: Your Questions Answered — Vaccines, Misinformation & Mental Wellness
  • November 4 - Coronavirus: Boosters, Health & Wellness
  • October 21 - Coronavirus: Protecting Your Health & Caring for Loved Ones
  • October 7 - Coronavirus: Boosters, Flu Vaccines and Wellness Visits
  • September 23 - Coronavirus: Delta Variant, Boosters & Self Care
  • September 9 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe, Caring for Loved Ones & New Work Realities
  • August 26 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe, New Work Realities & Managing Finances
  • August 12 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe in Changing Times
  • June 24 - The State of LGBTQ Equality in the COVID Era
  • June 17 - Coronavirus: Vaccines And Staying Safe During “Reopening”
  • June 3 - Coronavirus: Your Health, Finances & Housing
  • May 20 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Variants and Coping
  • May 6 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Variants and Coping
  • April 22 - Your Vaccine Questions Answered and Coronavirus: Vaccines and Asian American and Pacific Islanders
  • April 8 - Coronavirus and Latinos: Safety, Protection and Prevention and Vaccines and Caring for Grandkids and Loved Ones
  • April 1 - Coronavirus and The Black Community: Your Vaccine Questions Answered
  • March 25 - Coronavirus: The Stimulus, Taxes and Vaccine
  • March 11 - One Year of the Pandemic and Managing Personal Finances and Taxes
  • February 25 - Coronavirus Vaccines and You
  • February 11 - Coronavirus Vaccines: Your Questions Answered
  • January 28 - Coronavirus: Vaccine Distribution and Protecting Yourself
    & A Virtual World Awaits: Finding Fun, Community and Connections
  • January 14 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Staying Safe & Coping and Prevention, Vaccines & the Black Community
  • January 7 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Stimulus & Staying Safe
  • Dec 3 - Coronavirus: Staying Safe & Coping This Winter
  • Nov 19 - Coronavirus: Vaccines, Staying and A Caregiver's Thanksgiving
  • Nov 12 - Coronavirus: Coping and Maintaining Your Well-Being
  • Oct 1 - Coronavirus: Vaccines & Coping During the Pandemic
  • Sept 17 - Coronavirus: Prevention, Treatments, Vaccines & Avoiding Scams
  • Sept 3 - Coronavirus: Your Finances, Health & Family (6 months in)
  • Aug 20 - Your Health and Staying Protected
  • Aug 6 - Coronavirus: Answering Your Most Frequent Questions
  • July 23 - Coronavirus: Navigating the New Normal
  • July 16 - The Health and Financial Security of Latinos
  • July 9 - Coronavirus: Your Most Frequently Asked Questions
  • June 18 and 20 - Strengthening Relationships Over Time and  LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Protections
  • June 11 – Coronavirus: Personal Resilience in the New Normal