CoronaVirus Pandemic – XII: More questions …
It has been over a year since the arrival of coronavirus. No doubt, this pandemic has been a tragedy but it also exposed our lack of preparedness in dealing with such a crisis. Although many lives have been lost, with vaccination progressing at a rapid pace, the new cases are coming down along with the death rate. However, a new surge is beginning to occur and in certain states like Michigan, cases are skyrocketing, so beware!
At this juncture there are many questions and doubts in everyone’s mind. Let’s try to find out some answers.
How safe is it to move around after vaccination? Being vaccinated doesn’t mean that you’re totally immune to Covid-19 infections. It takes about 4-6 weeks to develop antibodies. Even if you have enough antibodies, infections can occur but they tend to be mild. I know at least two examples of this happening when a fully vaccinated physician couple attended a wedding ceremony in Mumbai and a few days later both came down Covid-19.
According to CDC, “If you, your family and friends are fully vaccinated, gathering in small groups without masks is considered low-risk. Although fully vaccinated people could still spread the virus, the vaccines are excellent in protecting you from severe illness, hospitalization and death.
What is causing the current surge of new cases? New mutated strains of corona virus called ‘variants’ are spreading all over USA. Florida has also seen an uptick in the number of cases, especially the Brazilian and South African strains. “Although the variants are playing a part, it is not completely the variants,” say the experts. “What we’re likely seeing is because of events like spring break and pulling back on the mitigation methods especially by the youngsters.” Which means we need to continue all the precautions for a lot longer.
How about vaccines and blood clots? Johnson and Johnson’s single dose corona vaccine has reportedly caused blood clots in six people recently and it has created a lot of anxiety and hesitancy to vaccinate among the public. And this particular vaccine is on pause right now. But please note, this is a rare event considering millions have already been vaccinated without any major side effects. “The overwhelming likelihood is that you will be just fine,” says Dr. Vivek Murthy, our surgeon general. So, please go ahead and get vaccinated. In India, there has been an explosion of cases among the unvaccinated young and middle aged people primarily because of the severe decline in compliance of Covid-appropriate behavior. So they are bringing back the ‘lockdown’ and other restrictions! This can happen in the U.S. too if we are not careful.
How do you deal with vaccine hesitancy? Sadly, recent national polls continue to show a significant number of patients are still reluctant to get vaccinated. So, every one of us who believes in science and follow the CDC guidelines should act as the ambassadors for vaccination. Already 31 percent are fully vaccinated and the numbers are going up daily. As it is for any complex project, the last mile is the hardest, so we have to continue to persuade and convince the naysayers that this is the only way to achieve herd immunity and win against the pandemic.
How about travelling by plane if you’re vaccinated? CDC is still cautioning against nonessential travel even for those who are vaccinated. For short distances, travel by the road may be safer but for long distances, you may travel by plane as long as you follow all precautions.
What about post-Covid-19 syndrome? Sadly, a subset of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 may continue to experience symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pains, intermittent chest pains, sleeping difficulties and even brain fog. The risk is not confined to the elderly and we do not know how long this will last. Once again, prevention is the best strategy.
We are not yet close to the end of the pandemic. "Summer should be fairly quiet in terms of Covid, if vaccinations rise and people don't stop wearing masks. But a considerable surge will occur over next winter because the new variants are more transmissible, and people will likely relax social distancing and mask wearing,” predicts the experts. So, continue all the precautions, get vaccinated as soon as possible and try to boost your own immunity to build resistance against any and all infections.
To be continued …
M.P. Ravindra Nathan, M.D., is a cardiologist and Emeritus Editor of AAPI Journal. For further reading, “Second Chance - A Sister’s Act of Love” by Dr. Nathan from Outskirts Press, can be found at www.amazon.com