By Xavier Kataquapit
Summer has finally arrived, and the warm weather has us all excited and out and about. We have all endured a difficult winter and, in fact, a challenging past three years of the COVID-19 pandemic. We deserve to have a great summer.
The fact is that COVID-19 is still alive and a threat to us. In Ontario the government is reporting that, as of June 7, 526 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and 114 are in intensive care. In terms of death, if you are vaccinated with three doses you are generally safe from getting very ill if you get COVID-19 or ending up in the hospital and dying. If you are not vaccinated there is more risk you could get very sick, end up in the hospital and perhaps die.
COVID-19 deaths mostly occur in those over 80 years of age, with 24,671 passing away in Canada as of the end of May 2022. To put things into perspective, 8,765 people aged 70 to 79 passed away, 4,415 aged 60 to 69 died and 1,881 50 to 59 succumbed. There were 671 deaths in the age group 40 to 49, 316 died ages 30 to 39, 130 died ages 20 to 29, 18 in the age group 12 to 19 and 32 in those six to 11 years of age.
For anyone who was fully vaccinated and had any of the COVID-19 variants, it seems their sickness was less severe, they were less likely to be hospitalized and faced less chance of death. For those who were not vaccinated the outcomes were more severe. It is understood that many people ended up with Omicron variants because of how contagious these variants were. However, many who ended up with Omicron hardly felt any symptoms.
I had one of the Omicron variants and I was sick for a week or more and then I coughed for more than a month. A couple of months later I developed symptoms again and coughed for a few more weeks. I wondered what on earth was going on and then I discovered a condition that is affecting thousands of people who had gone through COVID-19. It is referred to as Long COVID.
I know so many people who are still feeling unwell and not back to their good health since having Omicron. They are complaining about brain fog, exhaustion, fatigue, a sore chest or back, sore throat, headaches and being short of breath on doing anything physical. Through recent study I have discovered that although there is a lot of research going on to discover just how wide-spread Long COVID is there is some thought that it might affect about a third of the population who experienced COVID-19. It seems that the more severe cases are in those who were not vaccinated, however many people who were vaccinated and did not have severe symptoms are still experiencing Long COVID. Groups like the Long COVID Canada support group is assisting those who are experiencing this condition. People with severe cases have found they can not work, have trouble returning to a normal productive life and can not support family and friends as they did in the past.
Recent research points to the fact that people who had been infected with the virus experienced a reduction in grey matter and a greater cognitive decline compared with people who had not contracted COVID-19. How’s that for scary?
There is so much we do not know about COVID-19 and how it has affected those who ended up with it but research is going on all over the world now so we should know more soon. In the meantime, the best way not to end up with Long COVID is not to get COVID-19. So it is a good idea to get vaccinated and take preventative measures to protect yourself.
Although everyone including our governments are acting like COVID-19 has ended, the fact is that this is not true and the evidence is that this virus is still circulating and making people sick. The good news is that if you are not in the older age category you probably won’t end up in the hospital, in intensive care or die, however you could end up quite sick and then go on to develop Long COVID, which could affect you for many years.
So the best idea is to keep on wearing a mask in public when you are in a building with many people, wash your hands often and do your best to stay away from others who seem to be sick. It is very difficult for doctors to diagnose long-term COVID, and there are no known treatments currently so it is very much every person for themselves at this point.
We can still have a great summer, but we do have to be conscious that we need to be careful.