Today we are in new territory in sorting out appropriate behavior in the face of the novel COVID virus, a worldwide threat. COVID and its mutations are present in our lives every day, with rising numbers of new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Europe is now into the 4th wave of the pandemic as the Delta variant sweeps over the continent, and America may well be not so far behind.
Our good fortune is that we now have technological know-how and tools to bring to bear. Medical innovations to counter the virus occur almost daily in vaccines and antiviral medications.
For example, the journal Nature recently provided a window on two new antiviral pills – molnupiravir, developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, and Paxlovid, developed by Pfizer – which, if they address the full gamut of scientific, efficacy and efficiently considerations, “could” reshape the pandemic.
There are also other relevant advancements including widely available self-testing kits, improved personal protective gear, ventilators to assist critically ill patients, enhanced hospital procedures and processes to avoid aerosol transmission of the virus through improved aerosol management.
We do have the technological and financial means to contain the extent of the harm, but as a human race we have not been able to agree and act on how best to behave, often mixing politics, fatalism, and false information, to come up wrong.
That said, keep in mind there will be ways to put this “ very, very, harmful virus genie” back in the box, from being a “pandemic” to more of an “endemic” type health concern. Here are two such pathways which are likely to be highly effective and make a difference:
- a fully vaccinated population (possibly 80%), getting regular booster shots every year (or every 6 months as needed), as per the growing consensus among experts, based on Israel and other countries’ experience with the virus;
- for people who get COVID, early diagnosis and adequate treatment for all, but especially for those so sick as to require hospitalization; monitoring of those infected in order to be alert to any subsequent adverse health affects, and certainly with regard to those identified as long-haul COVID victims.
How to Live with Covid while waiting for the pandemic to end
On the one hand, there are those who take the position that some form of COVID will always be with us – much like the yearly flu, which started a century ago with the Spanish flu in 1919-20. And since this is the case, the argument goes, we should simply continue with our lives and live normally, as we have done in years past.
Most sensible people, however, recognize the need to prevent getting COVID and to avoid transmitting it to others, while living as normal a life as possible. Getting effective vaccines and boosters are no-brainers for adults and now children, other than those with conditions that may be affected by the medication.
Unfortunately, it is not that simple as there is no one formula for all people and situations, with dangers for some cohorts and in some circumstances.
That said, for most of us we can do things now that we enjoyed in the pre-COVID Era, but with added precautions. Here is some advice I gleaned from experts and that I’m happy to share – unsolicited – with my extended family:
Depend on Reliable Sources of Information:
Many of us are social media addicts, and even if not, get unrequested Emails from myriads of sources, much of it put out by charlatans or frauds. One cardinal rule is to look to known, authoritative sources which back up what they offer with evidence. WHO, your regional or country CDC is usually among the right ones.
Mask Manners and Social Distancing:
This is a complex subject, one that has generated about as much fire and fury as the wrongheaded anti-vaccers. Masks—good masks which are now plentiful—are important even if you are fully vaccinated, young and feel immortal. Keep in mind that no vaccine provides 100% protection, either from the get-go or over time. And it is equally if not more important you do so for others with whom you come in contact. Different situations require a different mask and social distancing behavior:
- Not usually needed when you are home or with a significant and permanent other, and of course your pets. But if there are short visits from guests, family, or workmen who have not been vaccinated and/or may have had Covid but not isolated for a satisfactory period, that’s another story and you need to mask up.
- Dining or drinking with others either at your place or a restaurant or bar means masks all the time makes simply no sense. If it is any sort of “sit down”, distancing between tables and seats, and if there are unvaccinated children, have them elsewhere.
- And for the northern climes, the weather means these are indoor events, often with rooms kept warm, sometimes by a fireplace for the lucky few. Heightened attention to the above is needed.
We know that often such happenings involve thousands of people who do not think they pose risk to themselves or others. Such events are potential super spreaders over which an individual has no control—other than yourself. Consider ”if” you think the organizers and most participants are likely to know about and take Covid concerns into account. But in any case, don’t simply rely on either — wear a mask.
Special Family Events – such as Thanksgiving
Weddings, births, birthdays, graduations, religious ceremonies, thanksgiving (now coming up) and sadder occasions are all often near mandatory. Each is a very special and sensitive situation, which should or must be part of your life; but the basic cautionary rules described above must still apply.
Reasonable behavior in our COVID world is not sealed in stone because so much of what it is about and what we are about, changes by the minute. Indeed, the future is not all gloomy, and there is some reason to think that even in the United States the worst of COVID effects can be dampened if people make the right choices.
But this is what we know now and allows us to enjoy our lives to the fullest extent under the circumstances.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — Featured Photo: Canadians gathered around their dining room tables for Thanksgiving on October 12, 2020, and two weeks later, authorities reported a spike in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 Article in Smithsonian Magazine.