WE ALL NEED A PLAN TO DEAL WITH COVID
By Richard Davis
It’s more than two years since we were first confronted with a new pandemic. There have been very difficult times and less difficult times, but most of us have reached the point where we want this whole COVID thing to be over. But COVID will most likely be with us forever and we need to learn how to deal with it.
People have started to act more “normally” in the past few months because the number of COVID cases and deaths has been decreasing and the number of vaccinated people is high. Unmasked is the more common attire these days and it scares me.
The odds of getting COVID may be decreasing but the disease is no less ominous. People with compromised immune systems and some chronic diseases are more likely to have a severe case of COVID, but the vaccine is helping to prevent disease progression and death in many people. Is that enough to let our guard down? It is a decision each of has to make.
I read three to four articles a week from medical sources about the current state of COVID. The recommendation for a second booster is a good one because most researchers have determined that vaccine protection begins to decrease within six months. Until we have a yearly vaccine or a forever vaccine we will need periodic boosters.
Keep in mind that vaccines do not make it impossible to contract the virus but they decrease the odds and there is abundant evidence that vaccinated people have fewer severe symptoms. Most people I know who have had COVID have had mild cases that did not require hospitalization but that should not provide us with any assurance that things will never get worse.
I do not want to have a case of COVID, not because of the acute illness but because of the possibility of developing the symptoms of long COVID. Long COVID is what makes this disease so debilitating and all of the research I have found indicates that there is no way to predict who will develop long COVID. It happens to people who test positive and are asymptomatic as well as to people who have has mild and severe cases.
According to the CDC, “In a nonprobability-based sample of U.S. adults tested for SARS-CoV-2, symptoms often associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection were common; 65.9% of respondents whose SARS-CoV-2 test results were positive reported symptoms lasting >4 weeks compared with 42.9% of those whose test results were negative. More persons who received positive test results (76.2%) reported persistence (>4 weeks) of at least one initially occurring symptom compared with those whose test results were negative (69.6%).
The CDC makes it clear that while they can report data on cases of long term symptoms of COVID they have not figured out how or why it happens. They note,” Among respondents who initially reported symptoms during the month of their first positive test results, >75% reported persistence of any symptoms >4 weeks, with hair loss, cognitive dysfunction, shortness of breath, and postexertional malaise persisting in approximately one half of respondents. This finding is consistent with findings from other studies reported in a systematic review and provides patient-level perspective on long-term symptoms associated with COVID-19; taken together, these studies highlight the importance of continued monitoring and clinical care for long-term symptoms among patients who have these symptoms early in the course of their illness.”
This all makes we wonder if our approach to treating COVID is not short-sighted. The vaccine deals with the acute episode of COVID but does not have much of an effect, if any, on what the virus does in the body after contracting it.
The virus is creating havoc for body systems and we do not know much about how this is happening or how to stop it.
Until we have figured out more about long-haul COVID I will continue to mask in public spaces, keep up to date with vaccine recommendations and hope I never have a positive test.