As much as we're over the pandemic, consider how healthcare workers who have been treating patients feel. They're exhausted, overworked and constantly dealing with people who no longer believe the virus is a threat. Although many will experience a mild case of COVID-19 and not require hospitalization, that isn't the situation for others. In addition, 1 in 13 people have long COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and with every reinfection of the virus, your risk for long COVID greatly increases, along with organ damage and other serious health complications. The pandemic is nowhere close to being over. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who shares five things to know about COVID right now. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
The Latest on COVID and the Vaccine
Dr. Mitchell says, "It's been over two years since COVID-19 was first identified and the virus has continued to spread worldwide. While there have been some promising developments, such as the development of vaccines, the truth is that COVID-19 is likely here to stay. The virus is highly contagious and can cause serious illness and death. In addition, it has been shown to mutate quickly, making it difficult for scientists to develop effective treatments. As a result, everyone needs to continue to take precautions, such as wearing a mask and social distancing. It may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to protect yourself and others.
While there have been some significant advancements in the search for a vaccine for COVID-19, it is essential to keep in mind that we are still far from finding a vaccine that would be more effective. The virus is constantly mutating, making it challenging to develop a vaccine that would be effective against all strains. In addition, the development of a safe and effective vaccine takes time. Even if a vaccine is developed in the next few months, it will likely take several years to produce enough doses to vaccinate the entire population. As a result, it is essential to continue to take precautions against the virus, such as wearing masks and social distancing, even after a vaccine is available."
Vaccines Have Their Limitations
Dr. Mitchell tells us, "While there have been some promising developments in the search for a vaccine for COVID-19, it is essential to keep in mind that we are still far from finding a vaccine that would be more effective. The virus is constantly mutating, making it challenging to develop a vaccine that would be effective against all strains. In addition, the development of a safe and effective vaccine takes time. Even if a vaccine is developed in the next few months, it will likely take several years to produce enough doses to vaccinate the entire population. As a result, it is essential to continue to take precautions against the virus, such as wearing masks and social distancing, even after a vaccine is available."
Masks Help, but it's More Effective to Protect if Everyone Else is Wearing Them
Dr. Mitchell says, "Though the data on how effective N95 masks prevent the spread of COVID-19 is still limited, there is evidence to suggest that they can be helpful in certain circumstances. Studies have found that N95 masks could reduce the number of virus particles emitted by an infected person by up to 95%. However, the study also found that the masks were most effective when everyone in a given space wore one. This is likely because it only takes a small number of virus particles to cause infection, so even a slight reduction in emissions can make a significant difference. In light of this, it is clear that while N95 masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, their effectiveness is significantly increased when everyone is wearing one. If N95s are not available, surgical masks have been shown to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Though not as effective as a well-fitted N95-style mask."
Masks Do Help, but Let's Face It, Most of Us Do Not Like Wearing Them
"Wearing a mask is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Dr. Mitchell emphasizes. "However, most people do not have access to N95 masks, which provide the best protection against the virus. Furthermore, many of us dislike wearing masks, which can be uncomfortable. However, we must remember that wearing a mask is not about ourselves but protecting others. By wearing a mask, we can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. So let's all do our part to stop the spread of this disease – wear a mask when close to others."
COVID is Here to Stay
Dr. Mitchell shares, "The coronavirus pandemic has upended life around the globe, and the search for a vaccine has been fraught with delays and false starts. Some experts are saying we need to accept that COVID-19 is here to stay. The initial goal of beating the virus in just a few weeks or months, they say, is unrealistic. Too many factors are required for this to occur—including cooperation from the public, timely manufacturing of vaccines, and an effective distribution plan—making it unlikely that the pandemic will be over anytime soon. Even if a vaccine is developed in the next year or two, it will take years to vaccinate enough people to reach herd immunity. In the meantime, we need to learn to live with the virus by wearing masks, social distancing, and increasing testing and contact tracing."
Our Healthcare System is Struggling
Dr. Mitchell says, "When it comes to healthcare, our society is very fortunate. In most developed countries, there is a robust healthcare system in place that provides high-quality care for all citizens. However, this system is not without its flaws. One major weakness of the healthcare system is its lack of capacity. When faced with a sudden influx of patients, hospitals often find themselves overwhelmed and unable to provide adequate care. This was painfully evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when hospitals worldwide were forced to ration care due to a lack of available beds and resources. As our population continues to grow, we must find ways to increase the capacity of our healthcare system. Otherwise, we will be ill-prepared to deal with future pandemics or other large-scale health crises."
The Burden of Long COVID Will Likely be Astronomical
According to Dr. Mitchell, "While the exact number of people affected by long COVID is not yet known, it is clear that the pandemic has taken a toll on millions of people's physical and mental health worldwide. In addition to the obvious health risks associated with COVID-19, many survivors struggle with the disease's aftermath. Common symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, and depression. For some people, these symptoms can persist for months or even years. The financial burden of long COVID is also significant. Many survivors cannot return to work, and those who can are often forced to take on reduced hours or lower-paying jobs. This can lead to financial instability and even poverty. The emotional and physical toll of long COVID is enormous, and the financial burden is simply too much for many people to bear. This is something we should all be concerned about." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.