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8 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT COVID-19
Updated August 2021
- Virus: SAR-Cov-2 is a virus that incubates for 5 days and can spread without symptoms in approximately 45% of cases. Known as a coronavirus, it can last on surfaces for up 30 days and transmit through respiratory droplets or through air (its microdroplets can travel 10 metres). Over 200 million cases and 4 million deaths have been confirmed globally due to Covid-19, and over a billion people have had at least one vaccination (13% of the world’s population). Delta variant is currently the fastest spreading strain of the virus with a R0 of 5-8 (a measure of transmissibility, original Wuhan strain had a R0 of 2).
- Symptoms: Documented symptoms include fever (80% of cases), 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%). The Delta variant is appears more like a cold, with predominantly headache, runny nose and sore throat symptoms.
- Long Covid: Up to a quarter of Covid-19 cases suffer ongoing issues including breathlessness, hair loss, fatigue, anxiety, clotting disorder, headache, gastro-intestinal symptoms, or cognitive impairment. Gut biome and overall health status are thought to increase susceptibility to long Covid; therefore staying healthy is important during this challenging time (managing your health proactively also reduces the chance of severe Covid-19 disease and hospital admission).
- Prognosis: Covid-19 is not as infectious as measles or chickenpox but currently has a death rate of 1%. Recent cases of hospitalisation include younger Australians and this is consistent with Delta variant observations around the world. Approximately 14% of cases are severe and need hospital admission, and about 7% of cases end up in intensive care. Hospital admission and death rates are higher in patients who are obese or have chronic health conditions that are not well controlled.
- Risk: The most important ways to reduce infection risk include social distancing, N-95 or 3-ply masks, hand hygiene, vaccination, and 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 and doing everything possible to reduce the risk of transmission. Stabilising any chronic health conditions and boosting you immunity is important – read these links for practical ways to improve your health: diet & exercise, stress and rest, medications, and high-risk illnesses. Research shows that exercise, vitamin D supplementation and avoiding influenza concurrently, are strong predictors of recovery.
- Vaccination: Pfizer & Astra Zeneca are current vaccinations available in Australia, with Nova & Moderna arriving in 2022:
- Pfizer-BioNTech – This is a mRNA vaccine which is 95% effective against symptoms and 90% effective in reducing transmission – against Delta variant its effectiveness decreases to 80%. 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 which is 82% effective against symptoms and 100% effective against severe disease – against Delta variant it is 70% effective. Two doses are provided 6 to 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 disorders have 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 take an airplane trip.
- 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.
- Moderna – This is a mRNA vaccine that is 90% effective, administered in 2 doses four weeks apart, and has similar side effects to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
- By the way, also make sure you get an influenza 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 to be effective in treatment of Covid-19 include anti-viral therapies, steroids and immune based treatment (such as antibodies from already infected Covid-19 patients).
- Facts: Osana recommends that you refer to Government website for updates here and here, and for those researching vaccines and detailed evidence-based answers, refer to the University of Oxford evidence repository (or ask your GP).