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The Perfect Storm

October 18, 2020

the pERFECT STORM

The Second Wave of the Coronavirus

by Jamal Ross

As we head indoors for holiday gatherings this winter season, there is a perfect storm brewing for a potential second wave of coronavirus infections. The ingredients fueling this storm involve ineffective contact tracing, “lockdown fatigue” and a season that brings the flu and coronavirus in alignment. There is a potential for the coronavirus to spread to our friends, family and overwhelm our health system.

The vast majority of Americans still have not been infected with the COVID-19 virus and there is no effective vaccine available, as a result a second wave of coronavirus infectious seems inevitable. Without effective contact tracing, the majority of our population will suffer with increased infections and stringent lockdown measures. Contact tracing allows those infected or exposed to the coronavirus to be identified early and isolated in an effort to prevent further spread of the disease. The possibility of someone, without symptoms, passing the COVID-19 virus to another individual, makes contact tracing even more essential.

Furthermore, the winter seasons drives many families indoors, where the COVID-19 virus is more likely to spread due to the limits of indoor air circulation. “Lockdown fatigue” may lead some to rebel against the thought of scaling down or canceling a Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas celebration. We may feel we have already given much to this virus and our family time is the last straw. Yet, we should think of ways to limit the risk of exposure to the most venerable members of our family.

Also, a second wave of coronavirus infections during the flu season can lead to an infection with both viruses. The clinical presentation, mortality and long-term health effects of such a coinfection is unknown and may be devastating. It is best to avoid such a clinical scenario by getting the flu vaccine and relying on preventative measures.

Importantly, the presence of a vaccine does not guarantee its effectiveness. Even the flu vaccine is not 100% effective. According the CDC, “recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses.” This is compounded by the fact that long term studies are needed to truly determine the effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine. At the moment, we do not have the privilege of time. In essence, the presence of a vaccine does not negate the need for preventative measures such as wearing a mask and social distancing.

“Whenever you see a cloud rising out the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming’; and so it is.” (Luke 12:54 NKJV) It is important that we use our discernment to appreciate the signs that tell us about a season of change. We will not worry about the days to come, but let us continue to practice prevention and remain obedient to the instructions of our health experts. It is my prayer that we excise wisdom and restraint this holiday season as the atmosphere for a second more devastating coronavirus storm seems perfect.

ADDENDUMThe understanding of COVID 19 has changed over the course of the year. There have been multiple waves. There have been multiple vaccines developed. Surprisingly, the vaccines for COVID are more effective than initially postulated. The COVID 19 vaccine is also more effective than the flu vaccine. The COVID 19 vaccine has undergone rigorous study and has been found to be safe and effective in preventing death and hospitalization.

REFERENCES

1. Belongia EA, Skowronski DM, McLean HQ, Chambers C, Sundaram ME, De Serres G. Repeated annual influenza vaccination and vaccine effectiveness: review of evidence. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2017 Jul;16(7):1-14. doi: 10.1080/14760584.2017.1334554. Epub 2017 Jun 9. Erratum in: Expert Rev Vaccines. 2017 Aug;16(8):865-866. PMID: 28562111.
2. Rondy M, El Omeiri N, Thompson MG, Levêque A, Moren A, Sullivan SG. Effectiveness of influenza vaccines in preventing severe influenza illness among adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of test-negative design case-control studies. J Infect. 2017 Nov;75(5):381-394. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2017.09.010. Epub 2017 Sep 18. PMID: 28935236; PMCID: PMC5912669.

Jamal Ross

Dr. Jamal Ross is an internist and pediatrician who possesses a passion for prayer and preventative medicine. He has worked in the fields of primary care and hospital medicine.

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