Last month, the U.S. marked 750,000 COVID-19 deaths, so unnecessary given the knowledge that existed to prevent many of them. Disease transmission became recognized as having aerosol transmission. Filters and UVC lights were placed in planes, businesses and everyone retired to their homes to work. Schools closed and masks became mandatory. Social distancing took on a specific meaning. New variants continued to surface. The arrival of emergency authorized vaccines, some better than others ushered in an era of controversy. Much research, at times retracted, has definitely established spread is aerosol. Specifics regarding the use of masks – how to wear, the number of layers has generated more science of disease transmission.
I want to share some numbers that can help honestly frame this pandemic -The CDC estimates that the flu has resulted in 9 to 41 million illnesses and 12,000 to 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020. And hospitals — institutions whose sole purpose is to heal — sometimes make us sicker. Healthcare-associated infections account for an estimated1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year. Advanced air filtration could definitely decrease hospital-acquired infections.
At this writing, Michigan hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID cases. Mass General Hospital has canceled elective procedures as beds and staff are needed to care for the influx of COVID-19 cases. As if that is not enough WHO announced a new variant of ‘concern’.
Omicron, as it was dubbed, will be in news but details require time and research to find out how transmissible and if vaccines protect.
No doubt there will be more information in the coming days about this variant that has the most changes in its genome than any previous variants. Thirty-two, 32, is the most consistent number of mutations so far identified. You probably want to know if it is in the US, sadly we rarely ‘type’ which SARS CoV-2 strain in patients. Isreal, Belgium, and South Africa do so much more. But I digress, back to air quality! Yes, airplanes filters are at times much better than hospital filters, however, the infected individual still must walk thru the airport. You say well how about a negative test? It is not known if the present tests can ‘pick-up’ that is recognize this new variant – ‘Omicron’. The incubation period -how long after exposure can a test show the virus is being shed in your breath, is not yet known. Yes, you can have the virus in your body but it has not multiplied enough to make you sick or turn a test positive. Hence a ‘negative’ test today may not mean much with this new variant.
PLEASE continue to social distance and properly wear a mask with at least 3 layers.