Helping practices to be their best.
Keeping you safe – COVID-19 into the future
What is the likely long term course of the pandemic here in Australia? Epidemiologists are the most qualified and experienced professionals to speak with integrity regarding the future of COVID-19. The US Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy uses previous epidemics as the basis for its calculations and their approach and conclusions ring true with me.
The northern hemisphere is due for a winter surge in numbers that will echo south via air travel. This will affect Melbourne more than other cities because of its greater international connection.
Northern countries are likely to experience significant seasonal ups and downs over several years with the virus eventually becoming endemic and with mutations appearing randomly. This is what occurs with influenza virus, but coronaviruses have a much higher mortality and transmission rate than influenza.
Australia will experience new infections for 18-24 months but with a flatter seasonal effect. If Victoria maintains sensible evidence-based measures, I believe the whole of Australia can remain relatively COVID free in the long term.
For most of us, immunity will come from vaccination rather than infection. Immunity is likely to be temporary and when a vaccine becomes available, it may require 2 shots a month apart in the first year followed by an annual booster that contains the latest mutations of the coronavirus. This is like our annual influenza programme, and we may be able to combine both vaccines into a single injection.
GPs have seen the adverse medical and psychological effects of the virus at close quarters. To keep you safe, we have changed our consulting system to allow us to remotely assess the risk of infective illness prior to a face to face appointment.
We have been able to re-instate our cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention programmes because of the very low numbers of COVID-19 cases. Our survival rates from cancer when compared to the likes of the UK and Europe are already better due to earlier diagnosis and management.
The recent introduction of extra Government support for Psychologist sessions will be helpful. We need to remember that children are often silent but very aware of background anxiety. One of the best approaches to both mental and physical health is a sensible diet and regular exercise. We need to manage our lives with as much awareness as possible.
Written by Dr Terry Rose – October 2020