Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, director of ICAP at Columbia University, spoke to NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday on June 21 about the increase in COVID-19 infections among younger people, and the need to mobilize this population to help curb the pandemic.
Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said it’s not yet clear to what extent young people are driving community transmission of the virus, but it’s a key metric that public health agencies should be following.
“It’s a lost opportunity,” she said. “I think young people can potentially have a very, very valuable role if we can harness their energy and attention.”
El-Sadr said the best strategy is to enlist “trusted spokespeople” who can help mobilize a younger population through things such as social media rather than relying on the same messaging that’s been coming from public health officials for months.
“How do we find those individuals that young people today want to emulate? The trendsetters that they will listen to and follow,” she said.