Lessons From COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every citizen of this world. It has been a highly contagious and highly virulent virus that has a mortality rate 10 times greater than the typical flu! In this post, we aim to highlight lessons we can learn from Covid-19 and how we can help prevent the spread of contamination with proper hand washing etiquette and the importance of timely vaccination. Nonetheless, we will recover, proving yet again that humans have a great ability to heal and recover. 

We have learned that nothing is more important than public health and personal health. Washing our hands (thoroughly) multiple times per day is crucial, and you can never have enough hand sanitizer when on the go!! Hand washing is a significant part of the prevention and containment of this virus. It’s interesting that handwashing dates back to 1840 when Dr. Semmelweis discovered that “childbed fever” and related mortality was substantially lower in maternity wards that incorporated regular handwashing.  He knew the cure for germs before there was a microscope to discover the germs. 

Covid-19 has refocused our attention on how deadly viruses can really be. Many of us have taken vaccines for granted and this event has become the greatest lesson for us all. According to the CDC, for the influenza season of 2019/2020, in the United States, there were more than 35.5 million illnesses, 16.5 million medical visits, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths related to influenza and its complications. The tragic toll of influenza and Covid-19 for the 2019/2020 flu season will be beyond comprehension. Most of these influenza deaths are preventable with a universal commitment to annual flu vaccination, as early in the Fall as possible. More of us will hopefully avail ourselves to all available and recommended vaccines as preventing disease is an individual goal and a community goal. While the flu vaccine does not prevent every potential case of the flu, it is associated with markedly reduced cases of the flu, less severe cases of the flu and therefore substantially lower rates of hospitalizations and deaths.  This is the benefit to individuals as well as to the health care system and to society. There are great efforts at this time to create an effective vaccine as soon as possible for the Corona Virus (Covid-19). If we are fortunate, it will be incorporated into the annual flu vaccine. The flu vaccine has to be created, tested, and administered annually as the viruses responsible for influenza illnesses alter/modify their DNA each year.

We have learned cough and cold etiquette along with social distancing as simple and effective measures that help prevent others from catching our germs. We have a greater respect for the value of vaccines in preventing the burden of diseases.  We have all learned to greatly respect the germ theory. We have also concluded that the real heroes of society are the healthcare workers and first responders. We applaud each and every one of them! 

 

Author
Maureen O'Brien Moomjy, MD, FACOG

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