- Virus: incubates for 5 days but can spread without symptoms half the time. Lasts on surfaces for up 30 days and transmits through respiratory droplets or through the air (e.g. microdroplets can travel 10 metres). Over 195 million cases and over 4 million deaths have been confirmed globally, and over 1 billion people have had at least one vaccination (13% of the world’s population). Delta variant from India has reached Sydney – it is more transmissible (R0 of 5) and currently causing Sydney & Melbourne outbreaks.
- Symptoms: fever (80%), cough (69%), fatigue (38%), mucous (34%), loss of smell (30%), shortness of breath (19%), body aches (15%), headache (14%), sore throat (14%) and gastro-intestinal symptoms (5%). Delta variant is more like a cold, with mainly a headache, runny nose & sore throat
- Long Covid: include breathlessness, hair loss, fatigue, anxiety, clotting disorder, headache, gastro symptoms, or cognitive impairment. Gut biome and overall health status is thought to increase susceptibility, therefore staying healthy is important
- Prognosis: Covid-19 is not as infectious as measles or chickenpox but incurs a death rate of 1%, which is higher than the flu. 14% of cases become severe needing hospital admission, and 7% of cases are critical needing ICU support – hospitalisation and death are higher in obesity and chronic diseases that are not well controlled, which highlights the importance of preventative health
- Risk: ways to reduce infection risk includes social distancing, masks, and hand hygiene is critical, as well as reducing time in crowded places with poor ventilation. Adopting “universal precautions” when there is an active outbreak is helpful – this means assuming everyone else has Covid-19. Stabilising any chronic health conditions and boosting you immunity is important – read these links: diet & exercise, stress and rest, medications, and high-risk illnesses. Exercise, vitamin D and not getting the flu concurrently are strong predictors of recovery
- Vaccination: Pfize & Astra are the current ones available, with Nova & Moderna arriving towards the end of the year:
- Pfizer-BioNTech – mRNA vaccine which is 95% effective against symptoms and 90% effective in reducing transmission. Two doses are provided 21 days apart and side effects include sore arm (68%), fatigue (29%), headache (26%), muscle pain (17%), and fever/chills (7%). Against Delta variant it is 80-90% effective
- AstraZeneca-Oxford – adenovirus DNA vaccine which is 82% effective against symptoms and 100% effective against severe disease. Two doses are provided 6-12 weeks apart and side effects include sore arm (64%), fatigue (53%), headache (53%), muscle aches (44%), fever/chills (32%), and joint pains (26%). Rare clotting has been reported (1 in 40,000 in under 50 years & 1 in 200,000 in over 50 years) which is less common than clotting from Covid-19 itself, or just flying on a plane. Against Delta variant it is 60-70% effective
- Novavax – spike protein vaccine that is 89% effective, administered in 2 doses 21 days apart, and comes with similar side effects to the vaccines above
- Moderna – mRNA vaccine that is 90% effective, administered in 2 doses four weeks apart, and has similar side effects to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
- Also make sure you get a flu jab, at least a week apart from Covid vaccination
- Treatment: if you do get Covid-19, lie prone (on your tummy) to support optimal breathing and seek medical advice. Current therapies that have shown efficacy include anti-virals, steroids and immune based treatment (such as antibodies from already infected Covid-19 patients)
- Facts: refer to the Government website for updates here and here, and for those researching vaccines and evidence-based answers, refer to the University of Oxford evidence repository (or ask your GP).