Health on the Frontlines: Continuing the Battle Against Coronavirus

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (greenish brown) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (pink), also known as novel coronavirus, isolated from a patient sample. (NIH/Handout via REUTERS).

The world continues to battle coronavirus and all its variants. It has now become a serious disease for the unvaccinated who are filling up our nation’s hospitals and intensive care units. The virus needs uninfected and unvaccinated people to find and infect in order to survive.

The Delta variant is spreading rapidly with 150,000 new positive COVID cases tested daily in the US and 1,000 daily deaths, which is on track to be 15,000 deaths for the month of August alone. The silver lining in its rapid spread is that we will probably achieve herd immunity to Delta by December with so many getting infected and developing antibodies. Sadly, in that mix will be many deaths and disabled.

Anti-vaxxers cry out that you can still get COVID even if vaccinated. What they forget to say is that at least there’s over a 90% chance I won’t be hospitalized or die if I am vaccinated. For example, in Michigan this month, 25% of the cases who are COVID positive are vaccinated but very few are being hospitalized or dying. Because it’s very hot in the summer in Florida, people gather indoors in the cool, dry air conditioning which facilitates the spread of the virus.

It’s the opposite in the north where cold weather drives people indoors into dry, heated rooms with air propelled by forced air systems. On a happy note, the IV Regeneron cocktail antibodies have been working great against the Delta variant, and we will soon have an oral antiviral by Merck called molnupiravir that is to be taken for five days upon diagnosis. It’s working great in the Indian clinical trial. The Lambda variant in South Africa will be the next viral mutation for us to watch closely.

In addition, booster shots will be offered as vaccine and natural immunity seem to wear off by eight months. For those who had the Johnson & Johnson shot, a study displayed in Time magazine recently wrote of 480,000 South African healthcare workers who were vaccinated and had 70% less hospitalization and 90% less severe disease or death even with the Delta variant. Our brave doctors, nurses, EMS, hospital custodians and clerks continue to face this faceless monster.

With real science, ingenuity, compassion, empathy and love we will emerge stronger and with a greater appreciation of life and the freedom we enjoy in this great nation.

Peter Michalos, MD is Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons; Past President of Medical Staff and Past Chief of Surgery Southampton Hospital; Chairman Hamptons Health Society. He has been a resident of Southampton for three decades.

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