COVID-19 CHALLENGES AND CONSEQUENCES: COVID’S Twilight: Less Disruptive– But Not Over Yet!
COVID delivered yet another gruesome milestone of over 1 million deaths in the U.S, outstripping the total number of deaths in both World Wars plus the Vietnam and Korean wars. COVID’s ravages reduced U.S. life expectancy by 2.39 years. It became the leading cause of death, outstripping cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It is leaving lasting scars on those who survive, negatively impacting the health of those infected but recovered, and has created profound sadness in families. The emotional and health costs are heavy, and wounds are deep and lasting.
Despite this, our lives have begun to return to what is at least a new normal. Mitigation mandates have been largely lifted, and more than 50% of Americans are now worrying more about gas prices than the impact of COVID on their vacations.
But Omicron isn’t done yet! Two new subvariants (BA.4 and BA.5) have become the predominant cause of infection, nearly doubling the number of new cases in just two weeks.
Highlights from April through June 2022, summarized in this update, include:
Major milestones marked by numbers of cases and deaths caused by COVID both in the U.S. and worldwide, new predominant Omicron subvariants, vaccines now available for infants and children, the need for a fourth vaccine dose (a second booster), cur- rent levels of vaccination, limitation of using some vaccines in special cases, and the need for and availability of new drugs.
COVID’s impact on life expectancy and numbers of births, the impact of COVID deaths on families, typical diseases arising at atypical times, hampered children’s neurological development, reductions in vaccinations against childhood-diseases, and in- creasing BMI in children.
Long COVID’s symptoms and long-term/residual health effects and the greater vulnerability and more profound affects in older individuals.
Impact of delaying treatment on health and supply chain shortages of critical supplies that preclude treatment.
COVID’s impact on diversity and inequity affecting life expectancy and death rates differently by race and socio-economic sit- uations, available but unused government support, and recommendations by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine to improve representation of minority groups in initiatives aimed at improving health.
Much has been learned (or confirmed), including that the spread of Omicron-driven infections seems inevitable, new vaccine developments are under way, vaccine effectiveness, risks for patients with some underlying conditions, potential post-vaccination sequelae, better understanding of COVID-related immunology and causes, and sensitivity and user acceptance of home tests.