COVID-19 FAQ #20: What is a bubble? And should myeloma patients exercise this practice?

In this COVID-19 FAQ episode, Dr. Brian G.M. Durie discusses how myeloma patients can safely "bubble" during the pandemic


A bubble is a small and exclusive social group of family or friends. Exclude those who may have had exposure to COVID-19. 

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Videos in the COVID-19 Series


This week’s “Ask Dr. Durie” comes from a patient who wants to know; “What is a bubble?” He’s heard people talking about these bubbles, which seem to be very important and he wants to know what that’s all about.     

Well, this is a new part to our language in these times of the COVID-19 crisis. A bubble is a group of individuals, but it also can be a region or a county, or a small town, it can actually be a whole country, where everyone is safe and has either a very low level of COVID-19 infection or, in some cases, zero active infections.  

It’s hard for people in America to realize that there are actually some countries in the world like Iceland and New Zealand where there are zero, there are no active cases of COVID-19 infection.     

Now, we cannot achieve that right now here in the U.S., but what you can do, is within your own family and/or within a group of your own friends, you can establish people who have had no exposure to COVID-19 for a period of, let’s say two weeks, and we would consider them to be safe, people who have been in quarantine, people who have had no contact outside of your own group.  

So, this is what we call a bubble, a collection of people who are safe. They don’t have active infection, in some cases it might have been possible for some people to have had a COVID-19 test, and to find out that they are negative.  

For example, some people might have someone who comes to the home to help, a dog walker or something like that, many or most of these people have had COVID-19 tests, so that you know that these people are COVID-19 negative.  

And so, this type of a bubble is very important to establish who is in your personal bubble, you friends, your family, and contacts, and who is out of the bubble. And, someone might end up being out of the bubble if they have to travel out of town or run into contact in the community where the infection level is high and, if they are infected or not, we don’t know. 

We have this problem where asymptomatic people can have the virus and can transmit the virus. And so, being very much aware of this idea of what is a bubble, and who is in your bubble, and who might be out of your bubble, or might need to be out of your bubble is extremely important. Because, we that if infection comes into that bubble, with a group of people that your very close with, then multiple people within a family or a group of friends could develop the COVID-19 infection.  

And so, the BOTTOM LINE is do be aware of what a bubble is, and try to stick with your own bubble, and see who’s in and who is out and might need to be out. And, with this you can maintain a much higher level of safety day-to-day. And, right now with increasing hot spots in different parts of the country, maintaining this bubble is incredibly important.  



Image of Dr. Brian G.M. DurieDr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.


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