Articles Posted in Vaccinations

chartGAOnursinghomeinfection-300x300Is the coronavirus’s staggering toll on patients in nursing homes something to be written off as a force of nature for which humans bear little fault? Or are there lessons to be learned about shortcomings that could help preserve lives the next time?

News media reports keep unearthing institutional misery and a blindness to the suffering of the aged, chronically ill, and seriously injured. Bad luck, shrug facility owners and operators, seemingly joined in by regulators and some politicians. Couldn’t be helped. Did the best we could.

In fact, investigations — by journalists and watchdogs — have shown the toll taken by nursing homes’ sloppy disregard for infection control, press for profits, and unacceptable paralysis as situations headed south.

magazines-199x300For those who may have more time on their hands due to the pandemic and who may be seeking deeper digs into Covid-19, excellent long-form coverage is abounding.

Consider, for example, taking time for the New Yorker article by  Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer doctor, biologist, and best-selling nonfiction author who delves into the question of “What the coronavirus crisis reveals about American medicine.”

His premise includes in its painful illumination a quote from Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, whose quip assumes a different poignancy when applied to the post-pandemic state of medicine:  “When the tide goes out, you discover who has been swimming naked.”

gileadremdesivir-300x169Optimism and realism should not be oppositional characteristics when looking hard at the slowly evolving measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Experts always have said many ways will be needed to battle the novel coronavirus and much attention has focused on a few: effective treatments, a vaccination, as well as testing, testing, testing.

There are reasons to be skeptical and hopeful about what is going on in each area:

covidprotestersmich-300x138Even as the nation battles the Covid-19 pandemic, leaders at all levels need to protect our democracy by both allowing appropriate expression of different points of view while also ensuring that extremists do not shove themselves into the center of public policy-making about crucial health concerns.

Americans — to their great distaste — have gotten a dose of the serious consequences that can occur when fringe, counter-factual thinking infects leaders thinking (or what passes for thought). Private companies and medical experts had to rise up to push back against President Trump’s “musing” or “sarcasm” about somehow “getting into the body” bleach, disinfectant products, and powerful light sources to attack the novel coronavirus.

As the New York Times reported:

cvirussurrenderWith the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic now framed as one of the planet’s major battles, it may be worth considering  the historical record on the timing of turning points in matters of war.

The American Revolutionary War, historians note, hit a crucial point at Saratoga — 14 months after the conflict became official with rebels’ declaration of independence. A key moment of the Civil War occurred at Gettysburg — two years and a few months after an attack at Fort Sumter tore the nation apart. In World War I, the tides did not seem to shift until the clash at Marne —  four years after an assassin’s bullet had plunged the world into war. And in World War II, it is a matter of some controversy, but many experts cite the brutal Battle of Stalingrad as a turning point — roughly 3.5 years after Germany launched a global calamity with its invasion of Poland.

The novel coronavirus, in roughly three months, has killed more than 50,000 Americans, with experts conceding that toll is likely an undercount.

drugsinhand-201x300Whoa, Nelly. For Americans stuffing their heads with vague data about potential drugs to treat Covid-19 — including chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, remdesivir, ritonavir, lopinavair, Actemra, Oseltamivir, Ribavirin, Umifenovir, interferon, baricitinib, imatinib, dasatinib, nitazoxanide, camostat mesylate, tocilizumab, sarilumab, bevacizumab, fingolimod, and eculizumab — let’s get a little perspective, please.

Let’s put things simply, especially for most ordinary folks who have no desire to play at being pharmaceutical experts: As of this writing, as noted online in a meta-review by the respected Journal of the American Medical Association, this is the reality about drugs for the novel coronavirus:

 “No proven effective therapies for this virus currently exist.”

drscope-300x200The public health restrictions put on much of the nation to battle the Covid-19 pandemic also have created complications for patients’ receiving other kinds of health care — a reality that the nation will need to deal with in the weeks ahead.

Doctors and hospitals will need to see whether their coronavirus case loads are such that they can begin to reconsider providing what were deemed nonessential medical services, including often performed procedures like shoulder, knee, and hip surgeries.

Most hospitals, responding to federal and state requests, put off elective procedures, notably because they did not want to put patients and heightened risk and because medical facilities nationwide have experienced desperate shortages of personal protective equipment and drugs. Some institutions have pressed ahead with operations they have deemed needed, despite questions from critics.

covidtestinggapnyt-300x185Public health experts and many politicians agree that the pursuit of any next steps in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic will rely on testing, testing, testing. The nation will need significantly more tests, with faster and better results, that show who is infected now. Further, many, many more people will need to take blood antibody tests to determine who was infected with the disease and may have some level of immunity from it.

This is the problem: Weeks after the novel coronavirus swept the nation, infecting hundreds of thousands and killing thousands, the testing available is too scant, takes too long, and — despite much bloviating and promises — is mired in unacceptable ways.

The gulf between the needed level of testing and what is occurring is Grand Canyon sized (see NYT graphic, based on Harvard University research, above), and this is a giant problem in potentially relaxing Covid-19 restrictions now in place.

covidstayhome-sharonmccutcheon-200x300With President Trump, members of his administration, and other politicians shoving back against public health officials’ recommendations on when to get Americans out of their homes and returning to work, the ultimate decision may be up to individuals: Do we give up the existing physical-distancing guidance? Or not?

The data on Covid-19 infections and deaths is still building, but it may be worth reviewing what is known about the disease, whom it afflicts, and how.

Based on the deaths of those diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, it has been deadlier for men than women. It is taking a terrible and disproportionate toll among African Americans, with Latinos afflicted at high rates, too.

covid19-300x210The spreading virus that has sickened tens of thousands and killed thousands — mostly in central China in Hubei province and its big capital city, Wuhan — now has a name: Covid19.

Public health officials hope that this moniker, along with new images of the virus, will make talking about this disease easier and reduce the exploding stigma that’s attaching to it, with mis- and dis-information fueling unwelcome panic, racism, and xenophobia.

The disease continues to batter China, with the cases in two dozen or so other countries limited to a few hundred and deaths in the single digits. The Chinese remain in a sweeping lockdown or quarantine that has brought much of the most populous nation in the world to a standstill since at least the start of the lunar new year, a major travel holiday across Asia. Officials now also are conducting dragnets and round-ups of those potentially ill.

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