Ten things you should know about Covid-19 (updated May 2021):
  1. Over 150 million cases globally, over 3 million deaths, over 1 billion vaccinations (but three-quarters is concentrated in only 10 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population
  2. Covid-19 is a virus that incubates for 5 days but can spread without symptoms half the time. It can last on surfaces for up 30 days and transmits through respiratory droplets (i.e. coughing) or through the air (e.g. microdroplets can travel 10 metres)
  3. Symptoms include 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%) – testing sites are widespread and return same day results
  4. Covid-19 is not as infectious as measles or chicken pox, 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
  5. Almost half of those infected, including younger adults and children, suffer “long Covid” which can 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
  6. There are 2 current vaccines available in Australia, with two more coming later this year
    • Pfizer-BioNTech – This is a mRNA vaccine available through large hospitals and vaccination (ultra-freezing required). It 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%)
    • Astrazeneca-Oxford – This is an adenovirus DNA vaccine that is produced in Australia and is available through GPs, including Osana clinics – it is recommended for anyone over 50 years of age. It is 82% effective against symptoms and 100% effective against severe disease. Two doses are provided 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 that clotting from Covid-19 itself, or just flying on a plane
    • Novavax – This is a spike protein vaccine that is 89% effective, administered in 2 doses 21 days apart and comes with similar side effects to the vaccines above. Australia has purchased these vaccines to be available in the second half of 2021
    • Moderna – This is a mRNA vaccine and consists two doses four weeks apart. It is considered 90% effective with similar side effects to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  7. There are many ways to reduce your risk of exposure – 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
  8. There are also many ways to reduce your risk of severe disease in case you are exposed – read these links: diet & exercise, stress and rest, medications, and high risk illnesses. Foremost, exercise, vitamin D and not getting the flu concurrently are strong predictors of recovery
  9. It’s still important to get your flu vaccination – just make sure it is 2 weeks apart from any Covid vaccination. Stay tuned on our Facebook groups for the latest Covid updates
  10. Stick to the facts – refer to 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).