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On health illiteracy

In spite of the efforts accomplished to limit the spreading of the covid-19 causing virus, the world is now facing a new surge in infections.

This surge is favored by the appearance of variants of the virus, as well as by the resistance of many individuals to receive the vaccination, particularly so in the United States.

According to surveys and modeling by the British weekly magazine The Economist, the single greatest predictor of whether an American has been vaccinated is whether they voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump last November.

This seems to be a very simplistic approach, insofar as covid infections in some states are caused by health illiteracy, not just partisanship.

The virus is propagated from an infected individual to a non-infected one, by the droplets that contain the virus and that are released from the infected individual by the simple fact of breathing, coughing or sneezing - or even laughing out loud. This is why respecting social distancing and wearing a mask are the best ways to protect others from our own possibly infectious droplets, and to protect ourselves from the droplets of others.

Being vaccinated makes it so that our body's ability to produce antibodies is enabled. Antibodies are the "police" molecules that catch and destroy the virus when it enters our body. In some unfortunate instances, some vaccinated people can experience "breakthrough" infections, and become sick: this accounts for about one percent of the new diseases and ensures that the disease will be less severe and chances of entering a hospital much reduced.

There is a certain time interval between the moment in which the virus enters the body and the moment in which it is destroyed: in this time interval our body can release virus-laden droplets and infect other people. This is why we must wear masks and respect social distance indoors, even if we are vaccinated.

I urge everyone to get the vaccination - now.

Paolo Giacomoni is a first-generation immigrant from Italy and France and a naturalized US citizen. Educated around the globe and holding a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Paolo has been politically active most of his life.


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