How to live with COVID, as explained by a UCL professor

March 22, 2022
How to live with COVID, as explained by a UCL professor

The truth is out: the world pre-2020 no longer exists. Although most of us want it to, for reasons of comfort, COVID-19 (COVID) has clearly upended the “normal” way of life. International governments are now attempting to introduce public health measures that go in hand with monitoring and containing COVID whilst maintaining normality, but according to Christina Pagel, Professor of Operational Research, Director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit at University College London, UK, the life we are returning to will be riddled with repeated reinfections, and be shorter on average than before.

Professor Pagel explains how COVID is worse than the flu, the latter being far less transmissible and having a lower infection fatality rate – the rate for COVID is about ten times higher than for flu. COVID also has worse longer-term impacts on the heart, lungs, and mental health than other respiratory diseases, as well as a higher rate of long-term symptoms. While vaccines have proven effective at reducing severe illness and death from COVID, the long-term effects remain unavoidable.

Professor Pagel highlights key changes to make to accept, mitigate, and reduce the future impact(s) of COVID:

1.. Endeavour to make indoor air as much like the outdoors as possible. This will involve large investment in infrastructure to improve ventilation and to filter and clean the air. This isn’t simple, but neither was bringing clean water and electricity to every home. “We know how to do it and it will be effective against any future variant and any airborne disease.”

2.. Vaccinate the world as soon as possible. This is crucial to save lives and slow down the emergence of new infectious disease variants. We also need to keep working towards vaccines that are longer-lasting and more variant-proof.

3.. Act early to contain outbreaks and prevent their global spread. Countries need to invest in better and permanent surveillance systems for new COVID variants and other new infectious diseases. Most countries are undoubtedly still ill prepared to handle an outbreak of this magnitude, despite having routine surveillance for serious infectious diseases and plans in place to mitigate their impact.

4.. Invest in understanding, treating, and preventing COVID. We still know too little about the long-term impacts of COVID, though more and more studies point to COVID’s long-lasting organ damage. Besides research, investment in health care is also urgently needed, especially for disadvantaged groups who take the hardest hit if exposed to the virus. Countries need to invest more in reducing community inequalities which will make all of us more resilient to future outbreaks and reduce ill health and death – not just from COVID but everything else too.

5.. Plan accordingly. There will still be future waves of COVID – the above will help rapidly identify an outbreak and understand how much ill health is being caused and immunity evaded – and in turn help tailor an appropriate temporary response. A response might include escalating testing, reintroducing masks, and working from home where possible.

“We can take control and build a way of living that is designed to contain the virus while allowing all of us – including the clinically vulnerable – to lead freer and more healthy lives,” Professor Pagel concludes.

Read: New COVID-19 test delivers accurate results in just 4 minutes

Category: Features, Top Story

Comments are closed.