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I'm a Virus Expert and Wish Everyone Knew This 

This is what you need to know for the next surge.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Apart from being a chief medical officer for a diagnostics company I am an emergency physician by training, specializing in point-of-care or bedside diagnosis and therapeutics/interventions. I was in the emergency department throughout the first several waves of COVID, and especially during the first one, I witnessed the struggle to diagnose COVID accurately and rapidly in patients. Unfortunately, COVID is here to stay, as we have clearly seen with the recent surges of multiple new variants. It is important that we keep ourselves and our communities informed with the most up-to-date information from medical experts and health organizations. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

People are Still Dying of COVID

Close-up of covid-19 infected patient in bed in hospital, coronavirus and ventilation.
iStock

While we have made great strides toward protecting ourselves against the virus, we must not forget that over a million people in the US have died due to this virus and, according to the World Health Organization, COVID-related deaths worldwide reached almost 15 million. Although less than with the initial COVID wave, people are still getting infected, getting sick, being hospitalized, and dying. 

It is also important to remember that, while COVID may not be much of a threat to you, it could be a threat to a loved one who may be older or immunocompromised in some way. After over two years of dealing with COVID, it is understandable that people are fatigued of quarantining, getting tested, wearing a mask and social distancing. However, if we want to move past the pandemic, it is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to make smart decisions, not only for ourselves, but for others. 

The best way we can combat the virus is to get tested as soon as there is a chance you are possibly infected so that you do not accidentally spread the virus to others. It is also very important to understand the most up-to-date safety protocols, follow guidelines and recommendations from medical experts, and err on the side of caution.

2

COVID Will Never Go Away

Women doctor wearing protective suit to fight coronavirus pandemic covid-2019.
Shutterstock

As I mentioned previously, COVID is here to stay; it will never go away 100%, and this is something we all need to come to terms with. The virus will continue to mutate, meaning we will continue to see new variants and strains and, as a result, we will experience ongoing waves and surges throughout our lifetimes. We will have to continue to adapt, such as adopting new vaccines for new strains, in order to move forward. When surges occur, we will need to follow the recommendations of the time and navigate through each new strain, similar to the processes of past viruses like the flu. 

This can sound scary and even daunting to some, but people have faced similar challenges since the beginning of time and with today's technology and highly trained experts, I am confident we will continue to make progress towards creating a new normal.

3

The Situation is Worse Than the Data Shows

General practitioner and young nurse wearing surgical face mask against covid-19 while having a discussion in hospital hallway. Doctor with face mask discussing patient case status with his medical staff while walking on corridor. Worried busy doctor showing medical report to nurse and wearing protective face mask with copy space.
Shutterstock

Since the start of the pandemic, COVID cases have been under-reported and the percentage of infections unreported is starting to skyrocket again. We made progress towards implementing mass testing during the peak, and shortly thereafter as people began returning to their 'normal' lives but testing in the US has never met the threshold for fully tracking and containing the virus. 

With a continuous shift towards at-home testing or self-testing, we have already noticed discrepancies in COVID cases being reported and what those numbers actually are – which is much higher. On top of that, many people are now contracting the virus with little to no symptoms at all, and are therefore not getting tested or taking precautions, such as isolating, to help stop the spread.

4

Protect Yourself

Close up shot of hands checking Covid-19 vaccine report card and ticking 3rd or booster dose after vaccination.
Shutterstock

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated and test regularly. This is also the best course of action for protecting others. Currently, the CDC is recommending that everyone ages 5 years and older, get vaccinated, and everyone 12 years of age and older should also receive a booster. However, it may be helpful to consult with your doctor regarding your specific risks from a possible COVID infection and potential benefit from vaccination, if you have any questions. 

Some groups may even be advised to get a second booster, such as those with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems. I always encourage everyone to do their own research, follow credible medical experts and organizations such as the CDC, and educate themselves on the vaccine and how it can help protect you from COVID. Whether you are vaccinated or not, you should also consider wearing an N95 mask when in crowded areas or when COVID cases are high in your area, as well as frequently washing your hands and sanitizing.

5

It Will Take Years to Understand COVID

Biotechnology scientist in ppe suit researching DNA in laboratory using microscope. team examining virus evolution using high tech for scientific research of vaccine development against covid19
Shutterstock

We still do not know the full effect of COVID and it will likely take years, if not decades before we completely understand the virus and its mutations. There have been many cases of side effects seemingly caused by the virus, but it will take further research and real-life data before we can positively link COVID as the direct cause of such side effects and understand how to control the virus and/or its side effects from taking root. 

6

These COVID Symptoms May Stay With You For Long Time

woman with cold, working on laptop computer, coughing and sneezing
Shutterstock

Some harsh examples of Post-acute COVID Syndrome (Long COVID) side effects include things like long-term lung effects, especially from those who got extremely sick from COVID or were put on a ventilator, as well as blood clots. Just as the lungs are essential to breathing, free-flowing blood is essential to operating organs. A blood clot can very easily result in things such as heart attacks, strokes, organ failure, and sometimes death. 

Other side effects, which have been seen with COVID long-haulers, a group of people who have had persistent symptoms, include brain fog, extreme fatigue, migraines, trouble breathing, and vertigo.

7

New Variants, Old Tricks

Sick man
Shutterstock

Although there are new variants, and there will continue to be, the way you catch COVID remains the same – through infection of droplets from one person, sometimes being transferred to a surface, to another person. It can be transferred directly from one person through actions like coughing, sneezing, or breathing and then entering another person's airways which include the nose or mouth. 

There is also evidence that COVID may be transmitted ocularly, meaning through touching your eyes. Indirect transmission would be when droplet containing the virus is on a surface, and then someone touches that surface and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes, therefore contracting COVID.

8

How to Stay Safe

Medication nurse wearing protective gloves and white scrubs get a needle or shot ready for an injection. - Image
Shutterstock

We should all be doing everything in our power to best protect ourselves and others, even though many people are getting very fatigued. This means getting vaccinated, getting tested regularly, avoiding high-risk areas, large gatherings, and crowded spaces, wearing an N95 mask when we are in a situation that is not ideal, washing our hands or sanitizing our hands after touching surfaces and interacting with people, social distancing, and isolating or quarantining when we are sick. 

9

Get Tested Regularly

Doctor or nurse wearing PPE, N95 mask, face shield and personal protective gown standing beside the car/road screening for Covid-19 virus
Shutterstock

Right now, I would also stress getting tested regularly since many people are asymptomatic or have minor symptoms, which are being brushed off as allergies, a cold, or the flu. Getting tested regularly, even if you do not feel sick, allows you to be positive that you are following the best practices for staying safe. 

Being vaccinated is a great and recommended step to protecting yourself, but we have seen evidence that being vaccinated does not prevent the spread of COVID, and therefore we must use testing to identify positive cases and utilize isolation to stop the spread. COVID testing has come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic and medical professionals, such as my colleagues and me at Anavasi Diagnostics, are working hard to create testing options that improve accuracy and efficiency, lower costs and are more convenient, to make testing easier and more frequent among populations for this very reason. 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.

Dr. Michael Blaivas is a Chief Medical Officer at Anavasi Diagnostics.

Dr. Michael Blaivas
Dr. Michael Blaivas is a Chief Medical Officer at Anavasi Diagnostics. Read more
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