The cautiously good news about the state of Covid is that numbers are stable both at home and abroad. Although new variants are always developing, with newer, weirder names like BQQ and BA1.1, hospitalizations and deaths are stable, and in many places, declining slightly. There are pockets where numbers in the US are on a slow increase, like NYC and a few midwestern states, but they are small and nothing like past surges. On the world stage, things have settled down in Europe and remain stable. But in China, despite their “zero Covid” draconian policies, there are surges in every single province. That is not good.
The bad news overall is that numbers of infections are still significant, and much higher than what is reported. I continue to see long-haul Covid patients and there is bad news on this front as well. Recent studies show that with Covid re-infection, the likelihood of death is 2x higher and hospitalization is 3x higher than with the first infection. Similarly, long-haul cases are significantly higher with subsequent infections.
The bivalent vaccine booster continues to show a more robust response than the original vaccine and it continues to protect against significant disease and hospitalization. Sadly, uptake of the vaccine is low, especially in kids.
The bottom line… We must still be careful, avoid risky situations, wear a mask and GET VACCINATED!!!
FLU and RSV. This is the worst start to both of these seasonal viruses in over 10 years. Hospitals, already hammered by Covid as well as all the other increasing chronic diseases, are headed towards bad times. ER wait times are ridiculous, more than 12 hours in our local hospital. Elective surgeries are being delayed or canceled. Healthcare staff is already stretched thin. Pediatric hospitals are filled to capacity.
The good news is that early genomic testing for the Flu indicates that this year’s vaccine is very effective against the predominant Flu strain, Influenza A. Other influenza variants like H1NN1 and H2N3 are also circulating, but in much smaller numbers.
So again, GET VACCINATED!!! At least against Flu. There is no RSV vaccine yet.
MONKEYPOX. Numbers in the US and worldwide are on the decline. The concern is that with decreasing numbers, responsible behavior in the highest risk communities will wane and there could be another surge.
Once again, if you are in a high risk group, GET VACCINATED. And behave responsibly.
POLIO. At least in terms of acute cases, Polio seems to have fizzled out. However, keep in mind that although the infection rate in healthy people is only 0.05% of those exposed, that presumes a healthy immune system (and most Americans are NOT healthy) and remember that symptoms may not appear for over 30 years, even after an asymptomatic infection. It is not a surprise that the earlier cases were in NY counties with low vaccination rates, so, again, GET VACCINATED!
THANKSGIVING. We are headed into the busiest travel season in the US. It is wonderful to get together with family and friends and I can’t wait to hug all my kids, parents, in-laws, sisters… But we need to continue to be careful and vigilant.
PLEASE mask when traveling. It is not a big deal and can make all the difference, not only to your health, but to the health of a loved one who may have worse health concerns than you do.
DISTANCE when appropriate. If you are flying, avoid the lines or at least try to keep some distance.
Tip: don’t rush to get on the plane. Although planes have great ventilation and air filtration systems, remember that they are not turned on until the plane actually leaves the gate! So you could be sitting there, in a tube, with no ventilation, filled with a bunch of unmasked yahoos who don’t care about Covid and certainly don’t care about you!!!
TEST before getting together with people. It is a small thing, but can prevent a lot of transmission. False negative rates do occur so… STAY AWAY if you have any symptoms of illness. It is not just about Covid. RSV and Flu are rampant.
AVOID ANTIBIOTICS. We have a need for instant relief and treatment in our society but for the most part, all antibiotics do is disrupt your immune system, impair your gut health (where 70% of our immune system resides) and put you at greater risk for even worse infections. Studies have shown that Covid infection and symptom rates are much higher in people recently treated with an antibiotic! Antibiotics do nothing against viruses and 90% or more of infections are viral. Deal with it. Drink plenty of water. Don’t treat fevers unless over 102. Viruses replicate as much as 250x faster in normal temperature environments. Fevers disrupt their replication. Mucus thinners like Mucinex are fine. Rest. And stay away!
If anything major pops up, I’ll post. Otherwise, have a great, safe Thanksgiving. Be truly grateful since, for all that there is going on out there in the world that is negative, there is still a lot to be grateful for.
Stay Safe and Be Well.