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Coronavirus update: CDC to decrease quarantine time; UPS ramps up dry ice production

Anjalee Khemlani
·Senior Reporter
·4 min read

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is aiming to reduce the quarantine requirements for someone potentially exposed to the virus from 14 days to somewhere between 7 to 10 days.

The change in days, in addition to conducting a test, is being pursued as health officials try to gain better compliance with an increasingly covid-weary population, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The decision is also guided by a better understanding of the phases of virus incubation and transmissibility. Within five days after exposure is when individuals typically display some symptoms, according to the CDC in October, but it can take as much as 14 days.

But a recent study from the CDC, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, suggested seven days of isolation would be sufficient.

“A 14-day quarantine after arrival, without symptom monitoring or testing, can reduce risk by 97-100% on its own. However, a shorter quarantine of 7 days combined with symptom monitoring and a test on day 3-4 after arrival is also effective (95-99%) at reducing introduction risk and is less burdensome, which may improve adherence,” the researchers said.

An employee of German logistic hardware producer va-Q-tec gets dry ice to fill an ultra-low temperature container to transport vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the company's headquarters in Wuerzburg, Germany, November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
An employee of German logistic hardware producer va-Q-tec gets dry ice to fill an ultra-low temperature container to transport vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the company's headquarters in Wuerzburg, Germany, November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Dry ice demand

Meanwhile, as states prepare to receive the first shipments of Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s (BNTX) vaccine next month, logistics companies and cold storage and chemical companies are in high demand.

UPS, which is playing a key role in the deliveries along with FedEx, said in a statement Tuesday it is preparing to produce 1,200 pounds of dry ice per hour in its facilities.

“UPS Healthcare now can produce up to 1,200 lbs. of dry ice per hour in its U.S. facilities to support the storage and transportation of cold chain products, such as frozen vaccines, in accordance with manufacturer storage requirements. The increased production also allows UPS to make dry ice available for U.S. and Canadian hospitals, clinics and other points of care requiring dry ice to store vaccines locally,” the company said.

The company is also partnering with Ohio-based Stirling Ultracold to provide portable ultra-low temperature freezers in the range that both Pfizer and Moderna’s (MRNA) vaccines require.

“UPS will be working with Stirling to offer the Stirling ULT25 and Undercounter Model SU105 to thermally protect critical vaccines requiring ultra-low temperatures ranging anywhere from -20°C to -80°C,” the company said.

The Swedish model

Earlier this year, Sweden’s lax strategy to battle the coronavirus spread was lauded as exemplary by those who advocated for herd immunity.

But the Nordic country has changed its stance, with state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell saying herd immunity is not slowing the impact of the virus as colder weather helps facilitate a surge in spread.

Dr. Howard Forman, public health policy expert and a professor at Yale University, said it’s a significant and important shift to watch, since the country had previously been seen as a model and touted by the likes of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas.

“Sweden has been used as a sort of false idol in this whole pandemic,” Forman told Yahoo Finance.

And while the U.S. and Sweden are trending in the wrong direction at about the same pace, it’s worth noting that Sweden pivoted to some strict measures, while the U.S. remains reliant on state and local governments to decide what to do.

“Right now, they look better than the U.S. because they are messaging very well,” Forman said, noting a majority of the country is in some variant of a lockdown, even if they don’t call it that.

One thing the U.S. has done right is push for more mask wearing — which is something that Swedes still haven’t adopted broadly, Forman said.

Despite that, with the surge in travel anticipated for Thanksgiving, the U.S. is setting itself up for worsening case and hospitalization trends.

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