By Saya Norm
FOUR years had passed. The pandemic seems completely disappeared from the planet. Death by covid-19 infections has dropped substantially in many countries.
Most people get vaccinated against the deadly disease and some had even booster jabs. World Health Organization made an announcement to end the declaration of COVID as a pandemic disease this May. The world became a beautiful and pleasant place again. Social animals came out of the house and gathered in public places. Bazaars, supermarkets, pagodas, swimming pools, beaches and tourist attraction sites were crowded.
Is Covid-19 clear? No. Mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2 named Omicron variants are waiting ready to start the next level pandemic The decision of WHO to remove COVID from the pandemic list is, I think, too speedy. There should be a transitional monitoring period for the certainty of worldwide infection. At present, most people think that Omicron is weaker than the delta variant. The renowned research centres announced that death by current Omicron variants is ninety per cent lower than by delta variants.
Moreover, many people assume that the COVID-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus attacks only the respiratory tract because SARS means ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome’. In practice, it attacks not only the respiratory tract but also the organs with rich ACE-2 receptors and leaving complications. (See the picture). Long COVID, a situation with complications that last for three months or more is very popular among sufferers and medical scientists.in Western countries. They are finding ways to manage the situation successfully up-todate and have not succeeded yet. Both Omicron and delta variants could leave Long COVID and it became a head-aching problem.
No mask, no hand washing and no social distancing are seen in many places in Myanmar because of a lack of good health knowledge and it is very horrible.
Is Omicron really weaker? It is too early to make such a remark. Recently, Omicron variants BA 5.2 and BF7 (WHO approved) had taken millions of lives in one of our neighbouring countries. During this outbreak, incinerators in many cemeteries of that country worked 24/7 but couldn’t catch up with the arrival of dead bodies. And its economic growth had collapsed. Mortality in Omicron infection is lower than delta’s but the former is more dangerous. Why? Because anyone with Omicron infection, regardless of vaccination status or whether or not they have symptoms, can spread to others. In addition, Omicron can cause reinfection, even in people who have recovered from Corid-19.
The longer the virus continues to circulate, the greater the chances of a new mutation emerging. That is why we are very difficult to get out of the vicious cycle. Whether we like it or not, we must continue to live in the new normal lifestyle.
Even for the fully vaccinated person, there is no full guarantee to be free from COVID yet so anyone should follow the old COVID prevention rules such as Social distancing, hand washing and mask-wearing. They are natural, practical, affordable and easy to follow for everyone. Most infections are originated from airborne or touch. A sneeze can travel about 8 meters (27 feet) depending on the temperature, humidity, the size of the droplet expelled and the lung capacity of the sneezing person. The travelling distance of respiratory droplets is between three to six feet in most cases thus people should stay away at least six feet from each other.
Avoiding man-to-man contact is the best way to reduce infection. Going to public places such as bazaar is inevitable, wearing the mask is the second-best way. Masks with a respirator is most suitable but even cheap surgical mask can block respiratory droplets going outside and coming inside. They prevent easy touching of hand to mouth, nose and eye of the wearer. Hand washing is an additional protection method to remove the virus that is carried when we go outside.
However, these three procedures couldn’t prevent the infection 100 per cent, they could reduce the risk of infection and lower the amount of virus that infects thus survival chance is increased and symptom severity is decreased. For a fully immunized person (even if that one had a chronic disease) they may assure to save live. Although the Omicron variants have increased infectability and some fatality, modern medicine now has potent antivirals (e.g., Palaxovid) which are more reliable than in delta waves. But they are available only on prescription and should be used in well-equipped hospital environment. It doesn’t mean you are helpless. There are herbs for COVID which saved many lives in previous episodes. King of bitters (Say Khar Gyi), Giloy (Sindon Manwe) and Cinnamon (Thit Kyan Poe) have antiviral properties and are recommended by renowned research centres. In my experience, a combination of these three herbs helps relieve the symptom severity within five days and complete recovery within seven days in most mild to moderate COVID infections. Giloy has ACE-2 receptor blocking property and further research should proceed.
When we try to prevent COVID, proper response of the immune system is vital. To get sufficient protection from vaccination, it must work well. To overcome the COVID infection, it must work properly, avoiding two extremes of overdoing and underdoing. The proper function of this system relies on good nutritional support. Some vitamins and minerals such as C, D3, E, Zinc and selenium are part of this. Taking them from food sources is preferred but during the outbreak, we should take them as supplements for sufficient therapeutic doses. Some naturopathic practitioners added quercetin, NAC, Omega-3 and probiotics to the list. Not so bad.
We are still in the middle of the COVID era. Omicron had changed its genetic sequence in 26 positions at spike protein and enhanced transmissibility as well as circumvention of the immune system (even in immunized persons). When it will enhance its virulency is unpredictable. In fact, Omicron is still travelling worldwide and producing mutants with unseen properties on a small scale. The world experienced that this small-scale flame later became a big flame in the past. So we shouldn’t be negligent about COVID and keep always alert. Removing COVID from the pandemic list won’t mean that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been eliminated. Scientists hope COVID to follow the path of seasonal flu and new infections to occur at a fairly constant rate, as opposed to the big, unpredictable waves we have experienced so far.
Nonetheless, COVID is continued to live. But the good arsenals, good knowledge of the pandemic and ongoing studies could be helpful you don’t have to worry so much.
We can face it with the collective efforts of proper vaccination, following COVID prevention rules, taking balanced nutrition (including supplements), and keeping good sleep and a calm mind. If someone is infected, unfortunately, there are better drugs and treatments than before. If we meet COVID again, Let’s face it efficiently with every way and means we have.