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CDC Changes "Close Contact" Guidelines, Pandemic Predictions

By Net Assets posted 10-22-2020 02:20 PM


(from the Washington Post) Federal health officials issued new guidance on Wednesday that greatly expands the pool of people considered at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus by changing the definition of who is a “close contact” of an infected individual. The change by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is likely to have its biggest impact in schools, workplaces and other group settings where people are in contact with others for long periods of time. It also underscores the importance of mask-wearing to prevent spread of the virus.

The CDC had previously defined a “close contact” as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. The updated guidance, which health departments rely on to conduct contact tracing, now defines a close contact as someone who was within six feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, according to a CDC statement Wednesday. That 15-minute period could be broken up over a number of shorter interactions. Tracking this will be extremely difficult. 

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(from Boston Consulting Group) Even with a highly successful vaccine rollout — the bull case — the public will still be wearing masks, maintaining distance, and avoiding crowds for many months after regulatory authorization. In fact, the public will likely be taking these precautions into the second half of 2021 or longer. Testing, tracing, and continuing efforts to reduce the severity of the disease with therapeutics will also remain crucial. If the rollout is less successful — the base and bear cases — such interventions could stay in place for 15 more months or longer. Our best-case analysis suggests that 2 billion to 3 billion people will remain unprotected by the end of 2021, even if all ten current Phase III trial vaccines receive approval and if manufacturers ramp up distribution quickly and utilize 100% of their capacity. Even if the vaccination of all 2 billion children is delayed until more safety data is available, a shortfall is almost certain.

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