September 29, 2020

Pandemic grows

Compared to many pandemics, COVID-19 is still a youngster and relatively small. A million deaths and counting worldwide, as it spreads further here and in other countries. Comparing COVID-19 to other pandemics is interesting, which the graph in the link shows. I think our global connections and communication have both helped and hurt the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Globalization allowed the virus to spread quickly to other countries and yet the news about the virus has also spread fast. This helped cut down on spread with social distancing and other methods. One study shows that social distancing cut down on the spread more readily than travel bans.

Think about if information on preventing flea bites which spread the “Black Death” (bubonic plague) was available and shared readily like we can share information now? Without the sharing of information, we would be seeing many more deaths and disabilities. Of course, it does help if it is scientifically based. Here is another source of reliable COVID-19 information filtered by scientists at the University of Washington. It is a regular report with new updates and data.

SARS-CoV-2 is not yet a year old, but we have learned so much and the death rate has fallen, despite the rising infections. Physicians are doing heroic measures to keep people alive long enough to recover. A last resort being used is an intervention called ECMO or Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation in which blood is removed from the body in a heart and lung bypass machine to oxygenate the blood. The survival rate is better than expected and ECMO is being used more and more. One of the physicians that caught COVID-19 early on here in our area survived because of ECMO. ECMO may be lifesaving but has limitations. This technology is expensive and not available in most hospitals. We have many fewer of these machines then ventilators. Plus, the truth is we still don’t know the long term complications, and we know the the road to recovery is not simple.

What we can do is continue to do the methods we are already following to reduce our risks. This will last a while longer, but it will not last forever. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and keep in touch with others. We can help each other through this.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, hang in there and be kind.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.