With bugs and diseases like TB or Measles or HIV, we don’t often learn much new significant stuff anymore. That’s mainly because we already know a lot of stuff about those bugs and diseases and so there’s less unknown stuff to learn. But it’s also there’s less research being concentrated into those bugs and diseases (which again is possibly because we already know so much about them).
SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19 don’t fit that bill. They’re new, we’re (desperately) researching them in great detail and we’re learning new things every day.
Seemingly, none of it is good news.
I’ve mentioned many times on this blog that the governments dealing with Covid-19 often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. There are no easy answers here: what might work well in one place won’t necessarily work well somewhere else. Countries are different; their economies, cultures, populations and population densities are different. And this is all new.
There is no one right way to deal with this pandemic. Equally, something is going to have to give: you sacrifice lives or the economy, depending on how you choose trying to manage the pandemic in any given place. And while that might seem like a no-brainer at first, sacrificing the economy will also cost lives in some form or other. It’s important to understand that it’s not a zero-sum game and it’s also important to remember that this is a virus that is going to kill some people.
Sad and blunt, but true. If you are criticising those in charge because of each and every death – devastating as each one is – you’re simply being obtuse.
That’s not to say that this couldn’t have been better managed. Of course it could and hopefully, if this ever happens again, we will have learned from the mistakes that were made this time around. Some of which were unavoidable, and some of which, well…
Sweden, once lauded for its “softly softly” approach to dealing with Covid-19, is back under the spotlight, and for all the wrong reasons. While it was being lauded in the early part of the pandemic for taking a different path, by July, it was already clear that it hadn’t worked:
The pay off was meant to be apparent when the second wave came around: with so many infections, would there be a degree of herd immunity and a much lighter caseload?
And suddenly, those claiming that Sweden’s approach was the way to go:
have seemingly quietly moved on to other nonsense.
While those who are usually very quiet about… well… everything, have chosen to speak out at just how badly the government there have handled the pandemic:
Again, I’m not blaming any government for their stance on dealing with Covid-19. But I feel strongly that it’s important that those who supported Sweden’s approach and insisted that it was working when all the figures showed us otherwise, shouldn’t now be allowed to just brush their mistakes under the carpet and try to advise us on how we should be dealing with the situation in which we find ourselves.
Our hospitals are full and according to some reports, some difficult decisions are now having to be made on criteria for admission to ICU beds. At times of stress and overcrowding, these decisions often have to be made, but if the cutoff age that I have seen quoted (38) is correct, then we are clearly in a very, very dire situation. And of course, that’s not just for Covid-19 cases. If you are involved in a car accident today in Cape Town and you need an ICU bed, well, that’s probably not going to happen.
Across the pond, new evidence has come to light that yes, while death from Covid-19 is predominantly amongst the older population, that’s not an exclusive club:
Young adults are dying at historic rates. In research published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, we found that among U.S. adults ages 25 to 44, from March through the end of July, there were almost 12,000 more deaths than were expected based on historical norms.
In fact, July appears to have been the deadliest month among this age group in modern American history. Over the past 20 years, an average of 11,000 young American adults died each July. This year that number swelled to over 16,000.
It’s a lot of young lives lost. And the tragic thing is that so many of those deaths will have been avoidable. Simple steps like wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly, avoiding close contact and crowded or indoor spaces can hugely reduce your risk of contracting or spreading SARS-CoV-2.
But all that has been said until we’re blue in the face (from frustration and exertion, rather than inadequate oxygen saturation) and yet still not many people seem to think it applies to them.
I could understand that as we started this journey, it all seemed so surreal. But what I don’t quite get is how people can still think that this is a problem for someone else. I’ve often mused over what it will take for these people to realise that it might affect them too. Sadly (or weirdly, maybe thankfully?) the second wave of infections seems to be hitting a lot closer to home for a lot of people – I personally know at least 20 people affected in the last week alone – and maybe that will be a bit of a reality check.
As I mentioned yesterday, we’re going to just hunker down for the next few weeks. If you’re reading this in SA and you are also lucky enough to have the option to do the same, I’d strongly advise it.