We cannot yet say for sure what the long-term impact of the virus will be, but we do know infections are already causing serious problems. The World Health Organization advises against repeat infection.
Some people say infection is inevitable, and it can seem scary to be powerless against a virus that has the potential to cause so much harm, but there are simple things we can do as individuals or communities to reduce the chances of infection and the impact of disease.
Vaccination – will reduce the likelihood of infection and the severity of disease. Stay up to date with your recommended vaccines.
Ventilation – outdoors is best, but if you have to be inside, open windows and get a good airflow going.
Filtration – HEPA and other high rated filters can extract virus particles from the air. Study after study shows HEPA can reduce viral load in real world settings, and reduce the risks of transmission.
High quality masks – N95, FFP2, C95, N99, FFP3 masks or better have all been demonstrated to protect the wearer and reduce viral emission if the wearer is infectious. These masks, or "respirators", have filters that prevent infection and have been used in laboratory and healthcare settings for decades. We know they work to prevent infection.
Testing – Regular testing is important. It can tell you when to isolate to avoid spreading the virus to others, and let you know if and when you need to start treatment.
Treatment – Antivirals such as Paxlovid can reduce the duration and severity of COVID-19. There are other promising antivirals and combination therapies in random clinical trials, and as more treatments become available, testing for the virus will become even more important so people know when they might need medication.
Some economic and political interests like to present a false dichotomy, creating the illusion of division over how to reduce COVID-19 risk. The reality is there is a clear scientific and medical consensus. This vaccines-plus initiative was signed by public health leaders, scientists and medics around the world and this Delphi consensus, which came to similar conclusions, was endorsed by more than 350 scientists, healthcare and public health experts.
The World Health Organization, the US CDC, the UK National Health Service all recommend variations of the measures suggested above. Certain political figures might like to pretend COVID-19 no longer poses a risk to public health, but the medical and scientific community and official government organizations such as the WHO, CDC, NHS, UKHSA, EPA and many others are united by a single consensus view.
That consensus is: Avoid infection whenever possible. Use the methods outlined above to do so.
We have the tools to prevent infection and limit the impact of disease. We should use all of them.