Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — October 27, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

391. Six out of seven Covid-19 cases in Africa go undetected, per the W.H.O.

         Q:  Are accurate records of the number of Covid-19 cases being kept everywhere?

         A:  It has been often stated that the Covid-19 pandemic anywhere won’t end until it has ended everywhere.  This means that every nation needs to maintain accurate records of how many cases that exist to implement mitigation steps.  The statistics in African countries that were recently reviewed at first indicated that Africa has avoided the worst of this disease.  But the World Health Organization has recently estimated this is not the case.  Matshidiso Moeti, MD, the Africa director at the WHO has recently estimated that about 59 million people in Africa have actually been infected with the coronavirus through mid-October.  The actual number of reported cases that have been reported is only about 15% of this number.  Many nations in Africa do not keep records of deaths or serious illnesses.  This highlights the difficulty ahead as work continues to eliminate this disease.

392. Two reasons for an increase in the number of vaccinated Black Americans

         Q: Are Black Americans still lagging behind Caucasians in becoming vaccinated?

         A:  Actually, recent research found that more Black Americans are now getting their vaccinations for two significant reasons.  First, the gap has been narrowed by the wave of pro-vaccine campaigns and the surge of hospitalizations and deaths this summer, mostly among the unvaccinated and caused by the emergence of the delta variant.  Secondly, the steadfast resistance to vaccines by many in white communities is slowing that group’s progress in becoming vaccinated.  Lucenia Williams Dunn, the former mayor of Tuskegee at first was hesitant about getting vaccinated, but she has since become a leader among the Black population promoting this important preventive measure.  “What people need to understand is some of the hesitancy is rooted in a horrible history.” she said recently.  “And for some, it’s truly a process of asking the right questions to get to a place of getting the vaccine.”  What appears to remain is solving the problem of getting the white anti-vaxxers to follow that same process.

393. An Alaska lawmaker barred from flying over masking rules has Covid.

         Q:  Are any of the state lawmakers against mandates being held accountable?

         A:  In several cases, people who are making it difficult to protect the public health find themselves unprotected because of their actions.  Lora Reinbold, a Republican state senator who has been a local critic of vaccine mandates, was barred from Alaska Airlines after she defied a federal mandate requiring passengers to wear masks.  She disclosed last week that she has tested positive for Covid-19.  Her revelation came as Alaska has been grappling with its worst coronavirus surge of the pandemic.  Ms. Reinbold, 57, argued with employees at Juneau Airport about the mask rule.  She normally uses air travel to reach her district, which otherwise takes more than 19 hours by car and ferry each way to the state capitol in Juneau.  She appealed the ban but it was later upheld “for as long as the federal ban exists.”  As a result, she will not be able to fly until January 18, 2022, even longer if the ban is later extended.  For treatment of her illness, Ms. Reinbold is reportedly taking Ivermectin, and “lots of vitamins.”  She added, “My Vicks Vapo-Rub steamer has been a godsend!”  Later, she added, “I plan to keep my promise to stay OUT of the hospital.  Some of them seem like scary places to me.”

394. Utah’s new cases are dropping, but hospitals remain overwhelmed.

         Q:  If a state’s cases drop, does this relieve the stress on hospitals??

         A:  Part of the stress on hospitals is the diminishing number of human resources – physicians, nurses and other health care workers than were available with previous surges.  This is the case in Utah.  A week ago, Utah had 570 patients hospitalized with Covid-19.  Hospitalizations have been increasing even as the number of new cases has been falling.  The previously infected people who need care remain to stress the hospital system in the state.  Many nurses have removed themselves from caring for Covid patients out of frustration that so many were not vaccinated and need not have fallen ill.  In many instances, health care workers have themselves become ill and died or remain disabled from long-haul Covid effects.  The rate of fully vaccinated people in Utah is below 55%, lower than the national average.  Yet even then, their rate is ahead of its neighbors including Idaho and Wyoming.  (Last week, Connecticut’s rate of fully vaccinated people rose above 70%)

395. There has been an increase in tuberculosis in 2020.

         Q:  There was a reduction in flu cases last year; how have other respiratory cases fared?

         A:  Deaths from tuberculosis, the world’s largest infectious disease killer until the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, have increased for the first time in more than a decade, totaling more than 1.5 million people in 2020.  The W.H.O. estimates this will increase even more in 2021 and again in 2022.  Malaria and HIV are among the other diseases the World Health Organization predicts will also increase.  The cause for this is the current emphasis directing manpower and testing activities toward this new disease – Covid-19.  “This is alarming news that must serve as a global wake-up call for the urgent need for investments and innovation to close the gaps in diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people affected by this ancient but preventable and treatable disease,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, the W.H.O.’s director general, said in a statement.  One of many hopes for the future rests on the progress made in the development of mRNA vaccines and other therapeutics.  Just last week, a vaccine for malaria was announced, and research is well along for a vaccine for HIV.  Maybe also of TB as well, somewhere down the line.