Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Letter of the Day | COVID-19: Reframing the conversation

Published:Tuesday | October 19, 2021 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Most persons are occupied by the debate surrounding mandating versus not mandating COVID-19 vaccines. While the discussion is valid and highly relevant, it ignores some of the realities of the COVID-19 disease that are not yet widely known.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus, the major area of concern was the respiratory system. However, it has been established that coronavirus infection can extend beyond the respiratory system. Many persons who got COVID-19 that did not require hospitalisation are left with persistent shortness of breath, which can last for months. It can take three months to a year for the lung to repair itself.

Many COVID-19 survivors experience some type of heart damage even if they didn’t have underlying heart disease and weren’t sick enough to be hospitalised.

Some people can develop diabetes after an acute COVID-19 infection. One study found that about half of the patients admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 during the start of the pandemic had new issues of hyperglycemia or high levels of blood sugar. They also had poorer outcomes. These people were not diabetic before. This has prompted some persons to voice the opinion that there may be a coming wave of diabetes as a result of COVID-19.

Some people with severe cases of COVID-19 are now showing signs of kidney damage, even those who had no underlying kidney problems before they were infected. The kidney damage is, in some cases, severe enough to require dialysis.

NEUROLOGICAL MANIFESTATIONS

A wide range of neurological manifestations have been reported during and post-COVID conditions. Stroke is a sudden interruption of continuous blood flow to the brain. A stroke occurs either when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked or narrowed or when a blood vessel bursts and spills blood into the brain.

Strokes can damage brain cells and cause permanent disability. The blood clots and vascular (relating to the veins, capillaries, and arteries in the body) damage from COVID-19 can cause strokes even in young healthy adults who do not have the common risk factors for a stroke.

COVID-19 can cause blood clots in other parts of the body, too. A blood clot in or near the heart can cause a heart attack.

Vaccines have successfully prevented diseases such as polio, measles, tetanus, and chicken pox, to name a few. More recently, the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine has heralded an era of prevention for genital warts as well as cervical, anal, throat, and mouth cancers.

Over six billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed worldwide, with minimal negative health impact. By contrast, there have been over 4.5 million deaths from COVID disease and some 219 million confirmed infections globally.

By now it should be apparent that COVID-19 vaccines are indeed safe and effective. There are no foetal cell lines (aborted babies), antibiotics, preservatives, or microchips in the COVID-19 vaccines – all being popular points of objections for taking the vaccine.

FOCUS ON OTHER ISSUES

Unvaccinated adults have an eleven times higher risk of dying from COVID-19 and are six times more likely to test positive.

The developed world has moved on to requiring COVID-19 vaccines for much of its population as well as making it a prerequisite for entering their borders.

Perhaps the time has come for individuals to focus on the benefits of a COVID vaccine not only for its ability to prevent severe infection, but also its potential role in mitigating the risk of lung, heart, kidney and brain disease, and diabetes for persons who may have even mild COVID.

DR ORVILLE NEMBHARD

Director

Health Plus Associates