In many cities, each night at dusk, grateful residents applaud health care workers. It’s a reminder that in the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and nurses held the front line. All that was required from the rest of us was to stay home, watch Netflix, and learn to bake.
We are weeks into widespread social distancing in many parts of the world, though it feels like months. Cases of COVID19 continue to mount, as expected, and we watch Italy and Spain for signs of when our society might be cast into crisis and chaos. Health care workers, the heroes of our time (and of all times, really), gird themselves for a flood of respiratory distress cases, projected to peak sometime in April. Physicians and nurses of all specialties are being asked to update their ventilator training in anticipation of being called to the front lines for service. Yet many fear that they will not have sufficient weapons for this fight, such as masks and ventilators.
At this time, it’s important to remember that COVID19 has a global case-fatality rate of about 2 to 3%, lower in the USA, meaning that most people will survive this. In the words of Larry Brilliant, “this is not a zombie apocalypse. It’s not a mass extinction event.” What is it, then? This is, and always has been, a health systems crisis more than simply a health crisis. Continue reading
Most models of the COVID-19 pandemic show it continuing for another year or two, with North America stifled beneath the current wave of cases until June at the earliest. With such harrowing realities, it’s easy to mischaracterize this crisis as solely a medical one. Continue reading
David Suzuki used to tell the story of going to a dentists’ convention and being amused that everyone there looked at his teeth before looking into his eyes. It was a reminder that we all see the world through the filters of our professions. Continue reading
Bill Gates recently speculated that COVID-19 could be the “once in a century” disease whose severity rivals that of the 1918 Spanish Flu. That disease was so dire that it likely played a role in ending the First World War, having removed so many soldiers from the battlefield.
COVID-19 has already caused profound economic, psychological and even climatic impacts. But with a century of experience since the Spanish Flu, how resilient is our health infrastructure against this and future pandemics? Continue reading