How Omicron Changes Your Odds of Long COVID

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A new study out of England found the risk of Long COVID to be lower with the Omicron variant compared to Delta. That’s good news, but there are some caveats. Andy chats with one of the researchers behind the study, Dr. Claire Steves, who breaks down the risk of Long COVID based on age and vaccination status. Benjamin Mazer joins to discuss why the population of Americans experiencing Long COVID remains largely unseen, and why the amount of quality data from the U.K. on Long COVID far surpasses the U.S.

Keep up with Andy on Twitter @ASlavitt.

Follow Dr. Claire Steves and Benjamin Mazer on Twitter @DrClaireSteves and @BenMazer.

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Andy Slavitt, Ben Mazer, Claire Steves

Andy Slavitt  00:19

Welcome IN THE BUBBLE. I’m Andy Slavitt. And it’s Friday, June 24. Today we’re going to dig in, as we have several times before, into the mysteries of long COVID. And we are getting better and better defining what long COVID is, we are now starting to study the effects. And for the first time, at least at first time, to my knowledge, we actually have some data on what’s happening with long COVID. And one of the authors who put together the information that we’re going to cover on loan COVID is with us on the show. And I’m delighted to welcome Dr. Claire Steves, away from England. Welcome, Claire. Hi, nice to be here. And from slightly closer with the New Jersey accent. So you can tell them apart when you’re listening. It’s really important. We have Dr. Ben Mazer, he is a laboratory physician writes for The Atlantic, and he has been writing and studying the kind of what are the impacts that one of the prevalence of lung COVID are going to have on society. Welcome to you, Ben.

Ben Mazer 

Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

Andy Slavitt 

That sounded vaguely British, by the way.

Ben Mazer

That’s a huge compliment.

Andy Slavitt

Yeah, no, we always feel the British accents. But actually, that’s just as cheap and […] substantive contributions to just focus. And actually sounds because you’ve actually done an amazing and long awaited piece of work on long COVID, which has, which is I think we’re going to define this actually good news. But before we get into it, I want to start with as good a definition of long COVID As we can find. So, you know, Claire, what definition of long COVID, did you use in the study? And what are the commonly held perceptions of what long COVID actually is?

Claire Steves  02:14

Yeah, so it’s a very good question. And it’s a question that’s still sort of somewhat fraught with difficulty. So the definition that I like best I guess is, comes from our National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, which is also called NICE, which is a national body in the UK that back in about October, November 2020, was really thinking about this question of how we define long COVID. And they sort of had an umbrella term, which they called long COVID, which is the word that patients sort of first used to describe this phenomenon, lasting more than four weeks for the whole umbrella term. And then they sort of subdivided another category, which they called post COVID syndrome, which was more than 12 weeks of symptoms that can fluctuate, can come and go, but they lasting overall more than 12 weeks.

Andy Slavitt 

So Ben, how would you complement that definition, in particular, how would you define the kind of symptoms that are kind of most closely associated with long COVID?

Ben Mazer 

Yeah, I think the definitional issues have been a huge source of struggle. Because obviously, if we have a condition, we need to figure out a way to define it. And the symptoms have just been incredibly far reaching. I mean, if you survey patients, and like, you know, in long COVID patient groups and just say like, what are your symptoms? These studies have been done. It’s hundreds of symptoms, potentially. But the consistent theme is that there’s fatigue and muscle weakness and headaches and cognitive difficulties, so called brain fog. And I think the bigger issue is not just necessarily what the symptoms are, but how severe they can be and how common they can be. And those are the things that I think are attracting people’s attention. Not that you can occasionally get some oddball symptom after an infection, but that it’s really widespread, and it’s interfering with your life.

Andy Slavitt  04:14

We’re gonna get into how widespread it is. And I think part of the reason that we’ve had prior shows on this, that symptoms are so widespread is because at least the current thinking is that a lot of this has to do with your vagus nerve, which is your nervous system, which basically goes throughout your entire body because you have nerves everywhere. Okay, Claire, let’s get into this study. What did it say?

Claire Steves

Yeah, well, so the study I think you’re referring to Andy is the is the study that we put out in the Lancet just a few days ago, which is looking at the risk of getting long COVID in the context of Omicron petite, specifically, the BA1 strain of Omicron, against the Delta strains before, but actually, this study only comes on the back of a range of studies actually, that we’ve produced over the last two years from the Zoey COVID study, which is an app based, it’s a mobile phone based symptom reporting app, which we’ve used across the UK, we’ve got about 4.7 million people reporting on this app over the time. And then we’ve tracked that over all the variants and gets vaccination. So last year, we brought out one of the first papers showing that vaccination reduces the risk of going on to get long COVID. And then we’ve looked at it in terms of the Alpha variant, and then the Delta variant. And then now this one, this paper that we’ve produced, is, I guess, the world’s first paper looking at the Omicron variant. And the good news is, and that’s I think, what you were referring to Andy is that the good news is that we find that there’s a reduced risk of getting long, COVID more than 28 days, in this case, if you have the […], one variant compared to if you had the Delta variant. And that’s a careful analysis that we’ve done in lots of different ways. And it’s a very robust result. So we think there’s a lower risk. Now, the problem is, is that a that reduced risk is only reduced by about half and B, the total number of people that have been affected by Omicron, because it spreads so rapidly, is way more than double. And so what that means is, the actual numbers of people that are affected by this condition, are set to rise, and in fact, probably have risen over the last six months in the UK. And that’s probably going to be the same elsewhere as well.

Andy Slavitt  06:31

So you’re saying, if you get COVID, your chances of developing lung COVID are lower, maybe as much as half, but your chances of COVID are higher. So you’re still gonna see a lot of people with COVID. Okay, Ben, should we be dancing a jig at this excellent news? And is this, is this really, really, really good news?

Ben Mazer 

I mean, yeah, I think that if these variants are becoming less severe, it is good news. And, obviously, I think vaccination has been shown in a number of studies to decrease the risk of symptoms. And obviously, you know, we’ve been pushing vaccination for a long time, and most people have gotten vaccinated. But it’s really important that we don’t try to kind of turn the page and erase all the people that have already been infected and already developed persistent symptoms. You know, I mean, this is a huge, huge group of people potentially, that is already with us. And you know, they’re our friends and neighbors, they might be ourselves. And so depending on what it means for people going forward, I think there’s this urge to turn the page.

Andy Slavitt 

No question. And we’re gonna get into that later, this episode of the show. But man, I find it hard for us people to even celebrate any amount of good news, because the news could have been bad, or just neutral. I mean, did you guys declare you and your collaborators, were you very happy at this result? Were you smiling?

Claire Steves 

I’ll tell you, when I was smiling, I was very worried when I saw over contagion off. And I was very cautious at the beginning in terms of thinking about it, because the early data wasn’t terribly clear from South Africa, that this was a less severe variant. And the worry is that, of course, there isn’t necessarily a great evolutionary pressure for this virus to get less severe. And I was very worried. But actually as sort of like December went through, and we went into January, we were already seeing that clearly Omicron, at least that BA1 strain of Omicron was causing less severe disease, it was causing less hospitalization, people who went into hospital were less likely to need oxygen therapy and less likely to go on to need it. And we saw in our study, we sort of looked at very carefully matched groups where we take an account of vaccination status. And we also saw that really starkly. And that gave me my first inkling that actually, we were going to see less long COVID Because we know from previous work that we’ve done and also work, which has now been replicated by other people, that the severity of that initial illness is a very strong risk factor for whether you go on to get long COVID, which is why people who’ve been hospitalized are more likely to go on to get long COVID. It doesn’t mean that people in the community can’t get it. Of course, we have a very large number of those people because there are many more of them than people who are hospitalized. But they’re less likely to go on to get to then hospitalized people and whether or not they’ve had a high number of symptoms in that first week of illness is strongly determining their risk of going on to get long COVID. So we will begin to predict this basically from that data. But what we’ve now shown is that actually plays out in what happens to people.

Andy Slavitt

So that’s good, and as Ben said, it’s limited good news, but is in fact good news. And to be clear, we’re not out of the woods, and I just want to make sure I help people really understand This study, and there were a couple of elements that I want to draw people’s attention to. You looked at a couple of variables. I mean, first of all, it looks like you control for a lot of things. But you these were all folks that were vaccinated. And you studied also a little bit of a difference in age, as well as the recency, I believe have the most recent vaccine. Can you describe how, and I think really relevant to people is age. Unfortunately, you can’t control or age, we are the age we are. But I’ve recently we’ve been, and most recently, we’ve been boosted, we can control. So how did those two factors play in to the likelihood of getting long Covid?

Claire Steves  10:38

Yeah, so in this analysis, obviously, if you want to look at the difference between one variant and another, you have to make sure that you’re in a sense adjusting or controlling or taking account of the variance that’s attributable to other factors that we know are associated with long COVID. And, in fact, in Nature Communications next week, we’ve got a really great paper, looking across 10 longitudinal population studies in the UK, and electronic health records, which shows as others have done that the risk of going on to get long COVID is quite age dependent. And whereas you might think it’s all young people that get this illness actually, that’s not the case, the age group that is most at risk, as it were, is actually the sort of 50-60 year age group.

Andy Slavitt 

Hey, there’s a big difference between 50 and 60.

Claire Steves 

There is a huge difference. But then what’s interesting is we see in, in, in all studies really that if you’re over 70, or 80, your risk is actually lower. Again, and that’s interesting. And that’s possible, possibly explained by a number of factors we could go into but anyway, so the point being is a pretty linear increase risk as you go up the decades up to the age of 70.

Andy Slavitt

Got it. And then how about the recency of being vaccinated or boosted.

Claire Steves  12:06

So, not in this particular paper, but actually, you know, we know from other studies that your immunity does wane after the vaccination to a certain degree. So in after the first and second vaccine, sort of your peak immunity is probably in the first one to two months. And then after the third vaccine, it’s actually your very peak is probably quite tight, and then it appears to wane. But ultimately, antibody levels stay really very high. And the protective effect is still seen for quite some time. But there is a sort of a waning, there definitely is a waning in the risk of infection. But that was very difficult to sort of really study in this study between Omicron and Delta, because actually, the populations were just very different because we rolled out this booster campaign within the UK. And so that was really coming in at the same time as Omicron. So we have very different population. So we couldn’t compare really like that.

Andy Slavitt 

So just I want to quickly summarize before we go back to Ben on two things. One is the bottom line seem to be that the risk of still having symptoms after 30 days was about close to 1 in 20 versus delta close to one and 10. What do you presume about 45, 60, 90 days? If anything, you obviously didn’t have time to study that. But I think if you told me I’d be sick for a month, I’d say not great. That’s a month if you told me it’d be better if he said, you know what, you’ll be better after 234 and five and six months, you won’t even feel it. I wouldn’t be a lot better news might, one of my one of my sons has been experiencing symptoms going on two years. But they’ve been reducing, I think. they just returned written. But knowing that there’s an end date, mentally, is really important. And as we get to talk about some of the impacts with ban around the impacts on society, it’s important.

Claire Steves  14:03

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, so we are working on that data on the longer term, as are others. Generally speaking, actually, though, the seat we you know, we’ve done quite a lot of studies on long COVID and compare these things over many ways before. And generally what we see with the four weeks thing is recapitulated for 12 weeks, but obviously thankfully, there are fewer people that are experiencing more than 12 weeks of symptoms, they’re still a very large number when we think of the whole population affected though. And of course, you know, when you’re getting to more than 12 weeks of symptoms, that’s really affecting your ability to carry out your job, you’re carrying responsibilities and so on. You know, you’ve really got to start making other arrangements at that point. So, I think you’re right to fit to be focused on that longer term symptoms.

Andy Slavitt 

But this is where you’ve done a lot of work. And so we kind of as you add these numbers up, and it says the infections roll around again and again and again, whether it’s one in 20, or one in 10, it’s just a lot of people involved. So tell us a little bit about, first of all, as you look across the US on a low and high basis, like how many people do we think have symptoms that are going on for months and months and months? And tell us a little bit about that?

Ben Mazer 

Yeah, it’s been probably one of the most difficult things to track a kind of a national scale, how many people have symptoms, because most studies have looked at a certain segment of the population, they’ve looked at patients who have been hospitalized patients who are members of support groups, patients who had somehow gotten into specialty long COVID clinics, which is most people can’t do that, obviously. And so, if you try to extrapolate that to the entire population, it doesn’t necessarily hold. And so actually, you know, the US doesn’t have a study of this, because we have a very fragmented healthcare system, which you’re very aware of. And it’s impossible to really study the national level, or at least, there hasn’t been the government effort to do it. And so we’ve been relying on British data on the ONS study, which is a much more representative sample, and we’ve just kind of been assuming that it’s going to match up to the US to some degree. And right now, I think it shows about 3% of the British population has some kind of symptom for at least four weeks, and they’ve had at least 80% infection rate across the country, that’s the government estimates. And so that gives you some idea maybe 5% of people or so if you really were to have everyone get infected, you know, maybe 5%, across the population will have symptoms. But that’s just such a huge range of things that could be a nagging cough, or it could be debilitating fatigue. And so what I tried to do in my article for The Atlantic was to look at pushing aside definitions, pushing aside all these variables, studies about prevalence and to say, if the numbers and severity are as big as some of the most extreme estimates, which have come from credible sources and are being discussed quite publicly. If we look at those really extreme estimates, they they’re just so big and so powerful, they have to show up at the national level. So I looked at data that didn’t cover long COVID That wasn’t specifically designed to look for it to see like, what are their signals, can we find?

Andy Slavitt 

Let’s come back, let’s come back and dig deeper to that I want to go to break so people can listen to a fascinating commercial. Okay, we’re back. Ben, we were just talking about trying to figure out like is this showing up is all the all the people with long Covid with showing up in the data so we can get some estimate of kind of some of the longer term impacts on COVID, I rudely interrupted you.

Ben Mazer  18:26

The numbers show that except for a few measures, there’s really not much effect at the national level. For what for what we would expect with the most extreme estimates of long Covid. Which means, you know, as a quick rundown, so we have sort of government disability filings, these are the absolute sort of sickest, poorest and kind of people who have the ability to navigate this very bureaucratic system. So you’re really capturing a select group. But you know, people millions of people have applied for disability across the pandemic. And actually, almost none of them have mentioned Covid in any way. And the government hasn’t been publicizing this, but they’ve just recently started to respond to media requests, like mine, and a couple other people with some actual numbers. This is all very recent. And when I asked them a couple of weeks ago, it was basically 20,000 people have applied for disability and mentioned Covid in some ways, so that does not mean that’s sort of the main cause, or the only cause but Covid has contributed to their health problems in some capacity. And 20,000 is, you know, not to make light of those 20,000 people and surely more, but that’s just an unexpectedly tiny, tiny number. You know, it’s 1% of the total application. So as hard as it is to apply for disability, even harder to get disability, I’m just looking at applications, you know, have you asked for it? So it’s 1% of the total application. So millions of other people have been able to navigate this process and they’re just not mentioning long Covid. And then when you just push aside those sort of bureaucratic applications and just serve it do National Service Things that people just ask them, like, are you having trouble thinking, concentrating, moving, running errands, holding down a job, these kinds of basic life activities. The numbers haven’t really changed much at all. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which you know, is the one every time you see those unemployment numbers every month that comes from this survey, and they also ask people about disability. And they found just in the last few months, there’s been a slight uptick. It’s pretty small. And, you know, these numbers fluctuate a little bit, because it’s a survey. And so you don’t always get the exact same result every time you run the survey. But it seems like they’re starting to just pick up a little, that means it’s not really causing a massive wave of people losing their job or not being able to hold down a job of not being able to take care of themselves and kind of a fundamental way, which is sort of reach it is reassuring, if you want some good news, that the most severe predictions that people weren’t gonna be able to work that they weren’t gonna be able to live their lives in a really basic way of taking care of themselves. It’s not a population crisis, although it’s, you know, I interviewed one person who clearly falls into this category people have interviewed these patients across the media, this is some people, but at the population level, we can’t find it.

Andy Slavitt 

Yeah. And it’s hard to, as you point out your article, it’s hard to actually know how to interpret it all. Because, you know, it’s sort of an imperfect process, people applied, some people maybe don’t want apply or don’t think that they can be persuading people or maybe don’t even recognize it. But there’s possibly good news, as you say that maybe between 30 days and 45, 60, 90, people are getting better, we just have to keep investigating further, I’m often reminded that the definition of a tragedy is one that happens to you. So like, doesn’t matter what the numbers are, like, if it happened to me, this would be frickin epidemic, because it would be horrible and tragic. And I’d be really upset about it. And it has happened to someone in my family. So your point, this is where I think your point earlier is very germane, which is even as we hear potentially promising news, and we interpret the news, Claire put out strictly, it says, there’s a lot of long Covid, still going around, but if you get it, your chances getting are lower, that should help you somewhat in thinking about the risks that we take. But it doesn’t discount the fact that you got a lot of people and episodes to fit a lot of people that are really hurting.

Claire Steves  22:29

Yeah. So I think it’s really interesting, it’s really interesting to hear your data, Ben, because I think there’s a certain amount of truth to what you’re saying. And I’m not surprised to hear what you’re saying about disability sort of in the data. And that’s partly because I think there have been quite a lot of inappropriately large numbers bandied about that have been highly scary, and maybe have sort of distorted the discussion around this. For example, I mean, some studies that have really high proportions of people that they say going on to get long Covid are only hospitalized people, for example, which have caught which actually is only about 2% of people who catch COVID, even in their sort of like the most severe waves. And then the second thing is that some other studies that are population based ask people for symptoms without sort of trying to attribute them and in fact, we’ve seen symptom reporting, overall, within the over the pandemic has, you know, fluctuated in response to lock downs in response to other sort of like, stresses that have been put upon the population. And so when you look at all these figures, you’d kind of really have to drill into making sure that whatever study you’re looking at has accounted for these in some way. And that’s what we looked at across these national longitudinal studies in the UK, which is slightly different from the seat that offers national statistics and that they’re all population representative. But they’re, they’re people that we have data going back years, so we can really look at how their symptom reporting has changed pre-pandemic, to post pandemic. And in those ones, we’ve asked a series of questions, including, you know, do you have long Covid? Do you have symptoms, which are you attribute to Covid, which have been going on for longer than 12 weeks, and they are changing your ability to function in your normal life. And when we do that, we see that it’s about 5% in people who are at that sort of 60 year age group, whereas it’s only about 1% of all people that have Covid in the sort of 20 year age group. And I think that those are much more sort of like sensible figures that are the real reality of what we think’s going on. And then, of course, whether that’s then reflected in the data that you’re sort of looking at Ben, that depends on a whole range of access issues and ability for people to sort of, you know, be have enough energy to apply, and things like that, especially if they are starting to get better after the 12 weeks.

Ben Mazer 

Yeah, I think that’s a great point. And, you know, I think we’ve really relied on the British data, it’s been so much more rigorous than I think some of the studies that have been coming out the United States, some of it may just be due to data collection, you know, being easier in your health care system. So, so yeah, we’ve been relying on England for long, COVID data and Israel for vaccine data. And, you know, I guess we’re just outsourced.

Andy Slavitt 

Yeah, you talk about their health care system, they have a health care system. Claire’s comment reminds me of somebody quoted in your article who said, the square pegs of long COVID Patients are never going to fit into the round holes of conventional testing. So it’s entirely possible that we don’t know how to ask the questions and understand the impacts appropriately. Still, I think what your article provided was an outer bounds of, you know, should we be raising the alarm at the level of this is massively impacting employment and people’s ability to function at this point, at very, very large numbers? And so that’s, that’s good to have some answers to. Let us do one more break, and then we’ll finish up.

Andy Slavitt  26:23

I think there’s five questions that we have been on a path to trying to answer some of them I think you’ve been definitively answered, some of them were on the path. And there’s plenty more questions we haven’t answered yet. But I’m going to, I want to throw these out there for some level of discussion from you guys. Question one, the first question we’re asking in 2020, there was a lot of people asking the question, is this real? Is this real? And I would say we’ve definitively taken that question off the table. This is real, we can measure it, we can see the physical effects, we even have some understanding of how that happens. Secondly, what is it? We went into this; my answer will be better in a year or two or three from today. But we can describe a little bit about worse what it feels like I believe. Third is how risky how likely am I to get long? Covid? It’s probably many people’s number one question. And I think Claire, you took a big bite out of that question with a lot of the research you’ve been doing and will continue to do next, what makes the risk high? And finally, if I get long Covid, how do I treat it? Is there a place for me to treat it? Where do I go from there, and we actually did a great episode on this with a couple folks, including David Petrino, and I’m not sure if you either of you know, at Mount Sinai, talking about rehab rehabilitation, sleep regimens, nutrition guidelines, etc, that have reduced, the bit of Hector will be able to reduce symptoms that he feels are color things consistent with this. So to my mind, those are the five questions we’ve at least been wrestling with, we got some degree of understanding, as the teachers in middle school, say, let’s discuss, what’s your reaction to that? And where this goes?

Andy Slavitt 

Those are great five questions. You know, the biggest question is the last question, isn’t it? And there’s a kind of question hidden underneath it, which is, what’s the underlying mechanism that’s going on here? And I think that’s sort of a really important question to address. And, of course, it may be that there’s more than one thing going on here. And some, you know, we’ve kind of already alluded to the great the great, sort of like heterogeneity of this condition. And ultimately, we think there are separate sort of disease clusters that we can see within the symptoms, which are underpinned by different disease mechanisms. And so it may not be that there’s one treatment, it may be that there’s multiple different types of approaches that might be used together or be as specific to an individual’s own reason for why they’ve gotten a long COVID syndrome. Yeah.

Andy Slavitt 

Ben, what would you add?

Ben Mazer 

I think that actually you should add another question to that now, as we sort of entered this phase of the pandemic, which is that how do we prevent long COVID patients from falling through the cracks? Because I think we are getting a better sense of the scale of the situation through British data and population data being you know, a couple of percent of people probably with, you know, pretty significant symptoms. And it’s, that’s a lot of people, you know, if you sort of factored in across the country and across the world, but it’s enough to also ignore frankly, you know, I think you could ignore 1% of the population, we ignore larger percent of the population all the time. And so I think that is going reaching out to people with symptoms, getting them care, getting them support, getting them at least validation for what’s going on in a diagnosis, and then obviously coming up with treatments, but just making sure there is still a focus on them, even if and when the pandemic recedes. Because if it’s 50% of people, you know, you can’t ignore it, right? The country is collapsing, and something has to be done. But one or 2% of people, I hope we can find a way to help them and keep paying attention even when it’s a little less interesting to the other 99% of people.

Andy Slavitt  30:42

Ben, you, you added a sixth question which, I’m gonna say you’re allowed to do you’re supposed to answer the first five. But you asked a sixth, it was a great question, actually. And it’s a really, really important one. And when we can’t forget, I guess where I want to conclude this to leave people with Claire, what will we know, in six to 9 to 12 months, that we don’t know today? Where’s this going? What are we going to study? And give us a sneak peek? I know you don’t have data do you like to share based on what your data tells you. But you can intuit a lot better than those of us that haven’t been working on this for so long. So what do you think we’re going to learn next?

Claire Steves 

So I think first of all, we’re going to be able to differentiate under this umbrella term of long COVID, we’re going to see different sort of sense sub syndromes are merging. And we’re gonna get much more data coming from the biological studies that are now they’re looking at what might be the mechanisms or what might be the associated biological signals that we can see underpinning those structures. And then that’s going to be really helpful, because it’s going to accelerate our ability to do interventions to try to trial this, to try and make a difference to this. And then the second thing that’s going to come up in the next six months, or 6 to 9 months is probably that already, we’ve been doing studies on how to intervene with rehabilitation strategies, as you say, nutrition strategies, and so on, which I think will be really useful and will start to report probably in the next 9 months or so.

Andy Slavitt  32:18

Ben here in the US, what do you think we’re gonna learn that we don’t know today?

Ben Mazer  32:24

We’re gonna learn so much in the next couple of years, which isn’t exactly reassuring to people now. But I think one really big question that we can only just start to answer for my article, which is other medical complications from Covid. You know, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke, neurologic disease, I mean, every possible disease has been associated with COVID at one point or another. And these are things we do measure in the US periodically, not at the national level. And so we can look at those rates, and of course, death rates, and other kind of vital statistics will start coming out over the next few years. And we’ll see, like, you know, does COVID increase your risk of diabetes or heart disease people have suggested it might and will actually have, I think we’ll have like, pretty good answers that in a couple years.

Andy Slavitt 

Well, it was really great to have you both here. I think it was a great discussion, we learned a lot, I’m gonna, I’m gonna leave with two points of my own, which I think are suggested from this conversation. And this dichotomy between, you know, what’s happening to all of us versus what’s happening to me. And I really want to emphasize that it’s important to think about both, knowing that it’s less likely to happen to you, unbalance should make you calmer, that if you get COVID, that you’re less likely to end up with long Covid, if you’ve been vaccinated, those are things that should make us calmer, that there’s always caveats. And the caveats are always when periods of COVID spread are high in your community, chances you’re getting Covid, then you know, 4% to 5% of still being sick a month is still not great. But look to take what we could get and an individual level that should begin one piece of news among a whole mosaic that should start to make us feel like we can understand the risks a little bit better. The second piece is the what’s happening to us piece. And that’s the piece that I think we sometimes forget, as soon as we’re done thinking about the what’s happening to me, and I really hope we don’t. And that is, that we have under any measure set of millions and millions of people that need treatment that we have not we don’t have a system set up for. We don’t have all the research funding we need. As Ben’s pointed out jealously a few times here in the US, we don’t have the data collection capabilities we need thankfully, we’ve got great collaboration across the Atlantic. So, I would hope that we don’t fall into a mindset where the feeling of safety makes us forget, but that we make the investments that we need to make people being in this situation. It ranges from lousy to debilitating and we don’t forget that. Thanks, guys.

Claire Steves 

Thank you so much.

Ben Mazer 

Thank you so much for having me

Andy Slavitt 

All right, next up is the weekend. But after the weekend, I want to tell you what to expect in the Bible because we have some really great shows coming up, but I’m just gonna tell you about them very quickly. The first I wanted explore the question of what tradeoff are we willing to make to lower gas prices? So we have Jason Bordoff on the show. He’s the dean of Columbia’s climate school. And are we willing to do business with NBS in Saudi Arabia? Are we willing to abandon our environmental goals and start drilling? How are we willing to get rid of the gas tax? What is it that we’re willing to do? How do our principles around climate policy, global policy, et cetera, do they all just disappear overnight when we see gas prices going up? So that’s Monday show, and Jason’s great, I think it’s gonna be a great show Wednesday. Michael Mina and Patrice Harris, talking about testing and the latest innovations. There are Friday conversation is with a guy who wants to ruin this podcast. Yes, he does. His name is Adam Conover. He has a YouTube thing called Adam Ruins Everything. So I’m gonna be very much on my guard for this conversation. He also has a Netflix show with President Obama, teach people about government. So have fun and interesting conversation. Then we’ve got Ken Burns. And we got Jason Kander, we’re gonna go and look in more depth and what’s going on with being a foreign being five. So you just rest assured when you’re joining your weekend, we’re going to be out there doing our reporting, doing our interviewing, making sure you know everything that is you need to know. And you tell us what you need to hear. We’ll have it in the bubble. I really appreciate you being here. And listening. Have a good weekend.


Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.

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