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HuffPost: It's Not Just Vaccines. We Need These 5 Other Things to End the Pandemic

As COVID-19 cases continue to drop in the U.S., HuffPost spoke with Jonathan Grein, MD, director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai, about five things that will help Americans return to some form of normal daily life given that COVID-19 may be with us forever.

"We may not be able to completely eliminate this virus, just given how many millions and millions of people around the globe are infected," Grein told HuffPost. But while many health experts believe it won't be possible to achieve herd immunity, widespread vaccination and other public health measures could limit the severity of the disease so that it poses minimal risk.

Grein said we need to determine how long immunity lasts, which will determine whether vaccine booster shots are needed and how frequently. Monitoring emerging variants that could make vaccines less effective also is essential, along with "targeted surveillance and identifying people that may have a 'breakthrough' infection who've been vaccinated," Grein told HuffPost.

Rapid COVID-19 testing, including improved at-home testing, could help limit further spread of the disease. With only one drug (remdesivir) approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19, further treatments must be developed. "We have more therapeutic options available to us now than we did at the beginning of the pandemic," Grein told HuffPost. "But we’re still pretty limited."

Finally, Americans will need to stick with masking and social distancing, in at least some situations, for the foreseeable future. "One of the key strategies to controlling this pandemic is maintaining those infection prevention measures," Grein told HuffPost, "particularly in high-risk settings."

Click here to read the complete article on HuffPost.com.