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Feb
1

MCM is back – and so is the damn coronavirus

After a brutal three weeks of 12 hour work days, finally came up for air late yesterday. The water is receding, so should be able to get back to my posting duties on a regular basis.

Let’s get right into it.

COVID’s mutations are likely to put off a full recovery till late summer or even fall.

While quite rare, viruses mutate during replication – genetic material gets shuffled around, mixed up, and re-ordered. In most cases the result is pretty minor, or “fatal” to the virus’ replication (as viruses are not technically “alive”, “fatal” isn’t exactly the right term, but close enough.)

Mutations are even rarer for the coronavirus.

So that’s the “good news”.

The bad news is this – with hundreds of millions of people infected, each producing hundreds of millions of individual viruses, there are lots of opportunities for the virus to mutate.

That’s why we now have at least three separate instances of a mutation that appears to make COVID more transmissible. While only one – the UK variant – appears to be slightly more deadly, the overall impact is not good.

Even more worrying, these mutations also appear to make antibodies (one of the immune system’s tools to attack viruses) and perhaps one of the vaccines less effective.

The good news is the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear to work almost as well against COVID mutations as they do against the “original” virus. So far.

Meanwhile, vaccinations in the US are few and far between. With only one out of 12 Americans vaccinated to date, we have lagged far behind the world leader – Israel – which has vaccinated over a third of its population.

Amazingly, there are idiots seeking to stop or prevent COVID vaccinations; these people are complicit in the deaths of the 440,000 Americans who’ve died from COVID. (photo credit halperry)

What does this mean for you?

  1.  Wear an FDA-approved N95 or KN95 mask. Not a cloth mask, not a bandanna, not a “surgical mask. (Thanks Mary!)
  2. Prepare for at least six and maybe nine more months of COVID. It stinks and no one likes it and all that – we all need to suck it up, stop whining, help each other out, and power through.
  3. If you can, help out the less-fortunate. Be kind and be generous.

 


11 thoughts on “MCM is back – and so is the damn coronavirus”

  1. Excellent post. Prevention (vaccination) is key. This will impact workers’ compensation; in California, there are already over 118,000 COVID-19 claims. We all need to be concerned about the long term consequences of this virus, including permanent impairment. Many organ systems can be involved.. Of particular concern is that many are reporting chronic problems with fatigue, “brain fog,” etc., referenced as “Long Haulers,” “Long COVID”, and “Post-COVID Syndrome”. We have an ad hoc task force working on best practices in evaluating these disorders. This is particularly challenging since this disease is new to all of us.

    Joe, it is great to see your posts again; they are so helpful. Thank you.

    1. Chris – thanks as always for your insights and kind words – and please keep us posted on developments re evaluating long term COVID issues. This will be critical to all WC stakeholders over time. When you are ready, and if you have time, would love to do an interview.
      Hope you are able to get some miles in on the bike too!
      be well – Joe

  2. Joe,

    Initial data our of Israel where many more have been vaccinated is very promising as mentioned in the article from NPR below.

    Israel is already reporting promising initial results of the vaccination campaign. The Health Ministry said Thursday that out of a group of 715,425 Israelis fully vaccinated, only 317 — 0.04% — got infected with the virus at least one week after their second shot, and 16 were hospitalized with serious symptoms.

    These are fantastic numbers and are better than anticipated. Time to be optimistic if we can just get most of this country vaccinated.

    1. Thanks Jeff – much appreciate the insight – that is excellent news indeed. It could well be that the combination of people who already had COVID and/or are currently vaccinated – along with strict masking and physical distancing – are having a “multiplicative” effect. That is, fewer people w virus are in circulation; they and others are masked, so much less likely to become infected.

      be well -Joe

  3. Why is Russia and China not vaccinated or initiated the process? Aren’t they a country with means?

  4. As always Joe, best of the best stuff around! thanks for the update. Any info out there to suggest some forthcoming vaccines, in trial, might be better suited against varying mutations?

    1. Hey Dave – apologies for the delayed response – short answer is too early to tell – BUT…Suppressing outbreaks is critical to stop mutations spreading and more of them developing. And expect variant-specific boosters and multivalent vaccines to improve protection in the near future. More detail here – https://absolutelymaybe.plos.org/2021/01/31/variants-3-new-covid-vaccines-and-contested-efficacy-claims-a-month-of-seismic-shifts-and-confusion/#variants
      be well – Joe

  5. Dr. Brigham brings up some good points about long covid patients. The sequella on these patients may be longer than many worker’s compensation injuries. And while the data to date suggests that COVID-19 claims thus far have not been terribly costly, I feel that the complexity of long covid patients may lead to higher costs in the long run.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

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