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LAist: Special Live COVID Retrospective—How Has the Pandemic Changed Our Lives and What Have We Learned?

LAist’s AirTalk recently featured Kimberly Shriner, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Huntington Health, an affiliate of Cedars-Sinai, in a panel discussion about lessons learned since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Three years after the virus that causes COVID-19 first emerged, it remains a mystery how the virus tampers with the body’s immune system, Shriner told AirTalk host Larry Mantle.

“That really seems to be the key to what creates the symptoms that people have when they have COVID and, of course, leading onto a really dreadful syndrome of long COVID, which we do see in about 30% of people who have had acute disease,” Shriner said.

Fortunately, scientists quickly developed effective treatments for COVID-19, like the antiviral medication Paxlovid, which lessens symptoms and decreases infectiousness very quickly, Shriner said. It may even reduce the risk of developing long COVID.

Despite those benefits, some people worry that Paxlovid can trigger a rebound infection. But Shriner said that’s a misconception. “There's very good data to show that whether you take Paxlovid or not, there's a risk of rebound … that's a natural behavior of this virus. It doesn't happen in lots of people, but some people. So Paxlovid doesn't appear in any way to increase the risk of rebound,” Shriner told Mantle.

She said that as California’s COVID-19 state of emergency comes to an end and mask mandates are lifted, it’s important to “keep masking going on in hospitals for a while longer until we’re sure that this thing is beginning to settle down a little bit.”

Shriner told Mantle that COVID-19 has taught her the importance of following the science in future public health crises.

“We need to create an environment that's safe for our healthcare workers to work in and to go forward with as much information as we have and make good decisions together,” she said.

Click here to listen to the complete episode of AirTalk.