Thursday, July 16, 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic - The Third Wave

While I am not a huge fan of the World Economic Forum (WEF), on occasion, they do provide insight that is pertinent to the world at large.  This is particularly the case with an article entitled "Our healthcare system is failing people without COVID-19.  It's time to address the hidden third wave" published on June 26, 2020.


Since late January, the world has been subjected to non-stop media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly statistics regarding the daily number of new cases and the daily number of deaths.  One key statistic that receives almost no coverage by the mainstream media is the "third wave" of deaths that will occur as an unexpected consequence of the pandemic as noted by the WEF:


"By prioritizing the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, we have unintentionally left behind people who live with rare diseases, cancer and other acute and chronic health conditions."


Hospitals and health care systems around the world have prioritized both controlling the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the treatment of COVID-19 patients.  Health care systems have shuttered their doors to the detriment of millions of people who are already suffering from life-limiting conditions.  On top of this, the fear-mongering that governments have used to control their citizens has resulted in a significant portion of people being afraid to enter a health care facility.  Here is an example from the American College of Emergency Physicians:



Note that 80 percent of actuals are concerned or somewhat concerned about contracting COVID-19 from a mother patient or visitor if they go to an emergency room.


Here is another interesting graphic showing the percentage of adults in key demographics that have activity delayed or avoided getting medical care due to concenrs about contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus while in a medical facility:



In addition, the Royal College of General Practitioners in Ireland found that 40 percent of General Pracitioners have not been able to practice their profession remotely from home during the pandemic with only a small number of face-to-face consultations being provided based on clinical needs of the patient under the government-imposed restrictions.  


The WEF found that deadly health conditions in the United States including heart attacks, appendicitis and strokes are at all-time low levels of hospitalizations during the pandemic even though it is highly unlikely that the actual number of these conditions has not decreased.  Here is a table showing the relative reduction in the hospitalization rates for potentially deadly health conditions from February 2020 to March 2020:

Not only are emergency health conditions going untreated, there is also a significant decline in preventative health care.  During the pandemic, there has been a significant decrease in cancer screenings, a health issue that results in an estimated 9.6 million deaths annually, far in excess of the deaths from COVID-19 as shown on this fact sheet from the World Health Organization, a fact that the organization clearly has forgotten since January 2020:  


Here is a graphic from Komodo Health comparing the number of breast cancer monitoring tests for the first 15 weeks of both 2019 and 2020 for Texas, New York, California, Florida and Arizona:



Here is a graphic from Komodo Health showing how much the weekly utilization rate of cholesterol screening tests (rate per 1000 people) dropped in Week 14 of 2020 when compared to Week 14 of 2019:



This drop in the number of breast cancer and cholesterol screenings does not bode well for the future.  Unless these conditions are diagnosed relatively early, lives can be dramatically shortened.


Lastly, people living with rare diseases are being ignored because of cancelled medical appointments and surgeries.  Globally, there are en estimated 475 million people living with a rare disease.  In Europe, during the pandemic, 9 out of 10 rare disease patients are experiencing interruptions in the care that they receive for their rare disease with 6 out of 10 declaring that the COVID-19-related interruption in health care is detrimental to their health and 3 out of 10 perceiving that these interruptions in care are either definitely or probably life-threatening.  Here is a summary of how Europeans with rare diseases are being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:



While governments around the world are trying to frighten us with the spectre of a "second wave" of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very clear that the pandemic has already put in motion a "third wave" of deaths that are directly attributable to governments' responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Sadly, this  potential loss of life was completely avoidable had governments taken the time to understand that health care is a universal right and that all health care should be deemed essential, not just health care related to a coronavirus.


1 comment:

  1. Covid-19 has not taken the large number of lives many experts predicted but it has taken a massive toll on the economy bringing many sectors to their knees. Over time answers have begun to emerge as to the extent covid-19 will have to impact our lives in coming years, however, the truth is being diluted and held hostage by politics.

    The subject of a "covid future" has a lot of parts that we have yet to face. Successfully balancing the damage to the economy and the mess it makes of our lives with health issues is a difficult act. The article below delves into this subject and why we remain so confused as to the long term effects of this pandemic.