Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Respiratory Infections: Mine, Yours, The World's

      My cold-or-whatever has calmed down, from a thundering sinus waterfall (well, not water, but let's stay with the Niagara imagery in lieu of anything more accurate, because ew) to a slightly stuffy nose, from headachy dizziness to the just the usual.  I think I'll avoid grocery shopping for a day or two, because who wants to sneeze in a mask, to the alarm of those around you and your own, well, once again, ew.

      Your cold?  That's your own lookout, though I will point out that Winter has never been a great time to go kissing strangers, long before the pandemic.  Eat right, wash your hands, mask up indoors away from home, don't go crowding indoors with strangers for extended periods of time, you know the drill.

      The world's?  Hey, let's talk.  Omicron is, as I predicted, here and growing.  If you took the other side of that bet, you should not play cards or dice for money: it was inevitable.

      Omicron may -- may -- be milder.  Optimists have been claiming that all such viruses "evolve to become less deadly" but that ain't necessarily so (as the eminent Dr. Gershwin tells us).  There's some pressure on them to become more transmissible, especially as we do things that reduce transmission -- and a virus that kills a large proportion of the host population quickly is not very effectively transmissible, no matter how infectious it is.  (The horrible truth is that this is what has, so far, kept dire things like ebola in check: they're too deadly to get far.)  But a virus that makes a lot of people fairly sick for a longer period of time while striking down a few can circulate for a long time -- smallpox and polio being good examples, deadly but not universally so and never what any of us would call mild.  The data on Omicron so far comes from populations with relatively high rates of vaccination; it may only be milder for vaccinated people.  We'll know in a couple of weeks.  Even a "mild" version is still a worry if you have risk factors like being elderly, immune system problems, heart or lung issues, are very overweight and so on.  We've all gotten this far, so keep on keeping on.  (I'd tell you to get vaccinated but by now if you want one, you know where to get it.)

      There's still the occasional complaint (mostly from pundits who ought to know better) that the U. S. doesn't do enough checking on which variants are circulating here.  I don't know if we can; this country has the third-largest population in the world.  Just the approximate two-thirds share of Americans who are vaccinated is more people than any other country on Earth except four or five, and the unvaccinated by themselves are more people than all but nine other countries: in this, as in many other things, there are so many of us that gathering really detailed data is a staggering task.

      Getting through this is a less staggering effort.  It's the same slog, and with the observed rate of spread, it'll probably peak more quickly than earlier waves.  Be prepared, and don't lose hope.


Tam said...

Harris County, TX just recorded the first known Omicron death in the US. Male patient in the 50-60 age bracket and, to absolutely nobody's surprise, unvaccinated.

Cop Car said...

I just received word that Granddaughter just tested positive for COVID-19, again! Testing to confirm variant is in progress. Granddaughter returned from taking her 10- and 11-year-old sons to Harry Potter Land (or whatever it's called) in Florida. Whatever Granddaughter, an RN, and her wife, an LPN, were thinking is beyond me. Granddaughter has multiple sclerosis and tips the scales at 300 pounds or so. So far, her symptoms are mild. She, her wife, and the sons had COVID-19 in August. Since that time, Granddaughter has received her 3rd Pfizer shot (not the booster version, if it's different, but the full shot) and the boys have had their first shots. Granddaughter is to be given monoclonal antibodies, again, but she doesn't seem to have been manufacturing any antibodies on her own. Arrrgh!

Granddaughter's mother (our daughter) is at such a high level of stress (my diagnosis) these days that she went to the ER with chest pains a couple of weeks ago. She was hospitalized for 3 days, but they had no bed for her due to COVID patients. I was ready for this to be over before it involved our family, and doubly so now.

Thanks, Tam, for the news update on Omicron.

Tam said...

You're welcome.

Hope all works out well for your kin, Cop Car.

Roberta X said...

Cop Car, that's rough. This pandemic has a lot of knock-on effects, and the increased stress, cycles of hope and frustration and so on are taking a toll that may never be fully accounted for.

Cop Car said...

Tam --Thank you for the kind thoughts.

RX--Thanks. Let's hope that what we are going through, now, leaves us (as in, humanity) better prepared for the pandemic of 2119! By then, perhaps someone will make some sense of it all.

Anonymous said...

I read today a story with the wife of a prominent (and young - 50 years old) broadcast consulting engineer that just died of COVID. The story revealed he was not vaccinated. That really saddened me, and annoyed me quite a bit. I don't know his reason for avoiding the jab, but I know why I got vaccinated. I can't take care of my family if I'm dead. I can't help my clients if I'm sick in the hospital. I mask up in public because I don't want to get others sick in case I'm radioactive.

I guess the line between the "common good" and selfishness is pretty fine, and a few too many are tipped to the wrong side.

Matt said...

Cough and headaches, no loss of taste or fever, test says negative. No, it's the flu, or a bad cold. Hard enough to navigate, worse and better this time of year. I have a lot of time off already set, so I won't have to call work to say I won't be in.

But I get a lot of calls from Mom, who, once I tested negative, is checking on me 1-2 times per day to see how I am, and if I'll make one of the three meals and get togethers scheduled for upcoming days.

Don't know, Mom, and you're bugging me a bit checking on me. I tried gently to say so, and she got her back up a bit, but as I've said, it's really a gametime decision whether to drive 30 minutes for a meal or not. Don't know how much energy I'll have, day to day. We'll see, really. And I'm sorry.