Stay safe has become a cliche, like Good morning, bye etc.
Friends, this week has been extremely bothersome as the second wave has been not just huge, not just a tidal wave but a seismic wave, and a tsunami that may overwhelm our healthcare system. Not just in Texas alone, it is across the US mainland, the UK, the EU, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, etc. It is extremely scary.
What went wrong?
First – let us understand some principles of transmission of the virus. Second, let us understand our fallacies. Next, let us understand our social dynamics.
A) Virus Transmission –
A virus multiplies in 100,000 copies in one single day. Almost, one bout of coughing produces 54 million copies, that fly as aerosol and also settle as fomites. Being a tough virus, it survives in the air for almost 3 -5 hours, depending upon the ambient conditions. The warm and humid environment makes it hang around longer. It drifts with the air current or stays suspended without a drifting, with no wind current. The peak is 14 days, thereafter the virus gets neutralized in the patient.
Symptomatic patients are not the only bug spreaders, for every symptomatic patient, we have 10 asymptomatic patients who are spreading the virus. However, for asymptomatic patients, the virus cycle continues for almost 28 days. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for the virus, it is colorless and invisible and since it is invisible, we feel pseudo confidence that we are invincible.
B) Our fallacies –
We presume the virus is not there. That and given our boredom of staying inside makes us extremely prone to catching the infection. We are frustrated staying secluded, within the confines of our four walls. But you are not alone, almost over two billion people on this planet earth are secluded and claustrophobic within the confines of their home. We all know social distancing but I see several families taking a stroll without masks, not knowing that they may be inhaling the virus.
Somewhere, we presume, it is a disease of the elderly. I have seen several case reports of a death within the young and healthy. I have seen case reports of kids suffering immensely from COVID. I have seen elderly parents escaping death. This all points towards one thing – that Science has not yet definitely identified risk factors for mortality and morbidity. Thus the virus behavior remains elusive and erratic. You may get the bug, harbor it and unknowingly, you become a super spreader. I see school kids interacting with each other. How can we ensure that those they are playing with have no disease (asymptomatic carrier)?
Social Bubble – Exactly, this small social network connects us with other tiny bubbles, and this is becoming the route of spread. New Zealand is the first country to realize this and they broke the vicious cycle and almost eradicated the virus. They will, however, get reinjected, once they start air travel though.
Work Bubble – We think, we are acutely dependent on running our family for a livelihood, not realizing that those who are working can become asymptomatic carriers and transmit to vulnerable parents staying with us. Are we so careless? (@Dr. Shashank Heda, for COVIDRxExchange.Org). If we have to essentially step outside for a living, let us live under a different roof, not with those family members who are vulnerable.
What Do We Do?
- Strict Social Distancing is not enough, we will be inhaling the bug via several routes.
- You all need to suspend all strolls, shopping, and other errands. Let us minimize exposure as much as we can. Can we buy online?
- Fomite transmission is deprecated. That means fomites do not pose as much risk as was considered previously. Please visit CDC for the guidance.
Summary: If you have let your guards down, a “new high probability” risk factor that will determine your chance of getting the infection. You can make your choices.