On this special bonus COVID-19 update, Nurse Keith discusses the place in which we find ourselves as January, 2021 comes to a close and we’re staring down the barrel at year two of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus pandemic.
With well over 425,000 deaths in the United States and 2.14 million worldwide, there are glimmers of hope and great anxiety as multiple mutations arise and vaccination efforts fall short. There’s much to discuss as we hang onto hope at this tenuous time.
Meanwhile, the world has now recorded more than 100 million known cases and more than 2.14 million deaths. But consider that due to relative testing capacity in many countries, 100 million is likely a vast undercount. Overall, we’re seeing an avg of 500k new cases being reported daily worldwide.
What’s wrong with this picture? We can do that math. The US is 4% of the global population yet we have more than 20% of the world’s infections and deaths. What does this say about our pandemic response one year in?
As mentioned in the episode, there’s a great explanation of how the Johnson & Johnson works in the NY Times.
Mutations are obviously a big worry at the moment, and I was talking about the potential of these back in the spring of 2020 based on my experience in HIV and AIDS.
The B.1.1.7. variant out of England has been shown to be much more transmissible and that definitely has much of the world worried. Its potential for increased lethality still isn’t completely clear.
Meanwhile, the first case of the Brazilian variant was found in the US in a man in Minnesota who recently traveled to Brazil. This variant, known as B.1.1.28 shares many mutations with the variant found in South Africa. All three are now here in the U.S. and one will likely become dominant. Pfizer and Moderna feel their vaccines should be sufficiently protective against these variants, despite the admission that their efficiacy may be somewhat compromised. The Brazilian variant seems to be more contagious, but whether it’s more deadly is an open question. Dr. Anthony Fauci has opined that tweaking the vaccine recipe could be done in a fashion that is not overly onerous, but I’ll believe this when I see it.
Here in the US, we’re kind of flying blind as we don’t yet have a large-scale, nationwide system for checking virus genomes for new mutations. Instead, a patchwork of academic, state, and commercial labs are doing what they can as bulwarks against new mutants entering the population.
We have countless nurses and healthcare professionals saying publicly that they will not agree to be vaccinated. Meanwhile, we have surges in many states around the nation, mounting cases and deaths around the world, and many more months of winter and indoor isolation to get through here in the northern hemisphere.
How are you going to get through this? How are you taking care of yourself? Whether you’re on the frontlines in the ICU or working telehealth from home, the pandemic is having an effect on you and those you love. What are your strategies for survival? I live alone and it’s definitely not been easy. How are you coping?
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