At the beginning of October, the global COVID-19 infection and mortality data was on the upswing again. A new wave began in Western Europe. Both infections and severe disease were on the rise. Changing weather, waning immunity from vaccines, or changing behaviors appeared to be some of the factors driving the fall wave. However, in Asia, the increase in cases appeared to be due to a new circulating variant. Pandemic experience varied from country to country depending on the rate of uptake of vaccines and boosters. By the end of October, however, the pandemic appeared better controlled across the globe. COVID-19 continues to elude predictive science, often not behaving as expected. This might be due in part to public health experts estimating that testing is down more than 90% around the globe. You cannot track what you cannot see.
Here in the U.S., we are often just a few weeks behind whatever the experience in Europe has been. Here too, we noted an increase in infections and hospitalizations early in October, and this held steady or increased through the end of the month. Booster uptake is extremely low across the U.S., with only 14.8 million people getting their fall booster. The nation is about evenly split right now between places where cases are rising and declining. Average daily cases exceed 35,000; average daily deaths exceed 240. These are not statistics you hear on the nightly news, but the threat of COVID-19 is still pervasive and impactful for many in the U.S.
What you have likely heard about in the news is the so-called “triple threat.” We seem to have the perfect storm of infection this fall—respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza (flu), and COVID-19. In a recent interview with Spectrum News, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, said he was worried about the confluence of the three viruses, which some have labeled a “tripledemic.”
“It is concerning to see three respiratory viruses, all of which are very contagious, all of which are rising at the same time,” Jha said.
Across the country, the availability of hospital beds for the sick continues to be a concern with a higher-than-normal percentage of beds used in almost every state. This is largely due to RSV and the flu but if we experience a fall/winter subvariant-driven wave as we have in the past two years, this lack of available beds would put a tremendous strain on the health care system and health care providers.
If you’re like many, you want to gather with family and friends and enjoy the spirit of the upcoming season. It would be wonderful if that could happen without creating or adding to yet another winter wave of COVID-19. If we do gather, we want to protect the vulnerable, such as elderly family members and friends, and limit disruption (missed school, work, events, trips) for anyone in attendance. The keys to successfully doing these things? Testing, testing, and more testing. Masks. Social distancing to the extent possible. Hand washing. Get up to date on your vaccines if you’re not. Get your fall booster and your fall flu shot. In short, do all the things in the short term that make this easier for everyone in the long term.
Pundits have spent much time discussing the “end” of the pandemic for months. In February 2022, the U.S. Chambers of Commerce Foundation hosted a live stream panel discussion featuring three noted COVID-19 experts. The topic was “The Role of Employers: Endemic COVID.” Each expert offered three things to know about endemic COVID-19. Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, an award-winning science communicator and epidemiologist, offered the following, “Just because endemic contains ‘end’ doesn’t mean that it’s the end… It doesn’t mean we’ll have zero cases. It doesn’t mean we’ll have a flat horizontal line from here on out. Instead, an endemic means a steady state, static… It’s constantly present with relatively low spread…”
We need a global strategy for living with COVID-19 long-term—to help ensure that countries around the world can maintain their societies without disruption, to combat the annual potential for a tripledemic, and to keep the vulnerable safe. Maintaining a proper testing protocol like one with the EviroTECH Ultra-Fast Covid-19 Detection Sensor is key to moving forward successfully in an endemic environment.
EviroTECH is committed to finding and developing new medical technologies that offer reliable solutions for medical testing needs and help combat viruses, diseases, and infections