It’s a complicated issue pitting public health experts against pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical companies, of course, want to make money. Their internal studies show that the chance of reinfection is increasing slightly over time (as expected), and they’re making the case that people will need a booster dose to keep their protection levels high. But many public health officials, including the very vocal director-general of the WHO, strongly believe that we should focus on getting to the billions of totally unvaccinated people first, before worrying about waning protection in those who are vaccinated. Remember, the vaccines work very well. The data that Pfizer points to to justify booster doses show that reinfection rates increase after six months, but even with waning antibodies, the vaccine is still about 95% effective against severe disease and even more effective against death due to COVID. The CDC and FDA issued a statement immediately after Pfizer announced it was seeking FDA authorization for booster doses, saying that there’s still research needed before we have proof that booster doses are necessary - and that some of those studies will be conducted independently from the drug companies. Ultimately, it’s the FDA - and not the pharmaceutical companies - that will make the call about whether boosters are needed.
Generally, no. Most COVID tests are just testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, and not for the specific genetic markers that show whether it’s the Delta variant. To test for the specific variant, labs need to perform much more expensive genomic testing on the sample, which takes more time, as well. Generally, a lab, health department or the CDC might decide that a specific case or outbreak looks “suspicious” and test it further to see what variant caused it, but that’s rare. There are some companies working on rapid tests, including some at-home tests, that are capable of detecting the Delta variant, but none are available now. Right now in the U.S., experts estimate that over 50% of COVID cases are due to the Delta variant; so while you may not get a lab result to confirm it, you can guess that if someone gets COVID in the next few weeks and likely months, it’s probably Delta.
It’s best if your unvaccinated employees don’t eat or drink inside. If possible, they should take their breaks outdoors and remove their masks there to eat and drink. If that’s not possible, and they must eat or drink indoors, they should do so quickly, ideally in a ventilated area where they are not within 6ft of others, and put their mask back on as soon as they are finished eating or drinking. Removing their mask to eat and drink indoors means they are releasing and breathing in respiratory droplets, increasing their chance of transmission in an enclosed space, which is why outdoor eating and drinking breaks are so much safer. As always, we recommend you consult your legal and HR teams before finalizing your company policy.
Yes, and we can help you figure out which test, provider, and frequency works best for your workplace. Give us a call, chat in the app, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you put together a return-to-office plan that works for you.