Anxiety & Fear
As a psychotherapist, specializing in trauma, crisis and grief many people are struggling to manage daily stressors in their own world let alone a global pandemic. This is an opportunity to slow down, reflect individually, reframe, and make a plan for a more balanced life. Anxiety and fear are based in the limbic or emotional center of the brain, it is carried throughout the body by the vagus nerve, and deeply rooted in the subconscious. Many people struggle with fight, flight, and freeze states, busy minds, insomnia, dealing with reactivity, anger, psychological and emotional pain that is keeps them stuck. Balancing one’s mind-body by developing debriefing skills, emotional regulation, thought shifting, desensitizing unwanted body sensations, breaking the cycle, creating a personal crisis plan are just a few things that will reduce fear, anxiety, and panic. Fear is a feeling and a physical response to keep us alive/safe it is a “check in moment,” it was not designed to be a way of living.
Using catastrophizing as a resource, to plan a strategy, or seek knowledge all of these may reduce fear depending on the person’s coping style and personality. Find opportunities to share information, resources, a call, FaceTime/Zoom check in as most people are feeling lonely and feeling isolated. Focusing your mind and energy on what you can control rather than what is out of your control.
Get creative with emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual coping strategies and write it down. Those who are grieving may need additional emotional support while finding ways to move forward and honor their loved ones. Establishing resiliency through challenging times are what trauma survivor’s excel in. However, if you or someone you know needs professional help now is the perfect time to find a telehealth counselor. There are so many resources available to assist with the current crisis many people have Insurance, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s), Health Savings Accounts (HAS’s), and government sponsored grants are out there is you are directly affected by COVID-19. Many counselors, agencies, support groups, and online forums are free and/or have reduced rates and sliding scale fees to give back to the community in crisis. Know the facts before internalizing, and reduce fear by having a plan, this helps mitigate uncertainty.
Corona Virus Origins
The corona-virus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that encompasses the common cold through more severe illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Let’s review a few facts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and The World Health Organization (WHO). It belongs to a family of viruses that is named “corona” – which comes from the Latin for “crown” because under a microscope it looks like a crown. According to a virology expert, Guido Vanham, the novel SARS-CoV-2 corona-virus emerged in the city of Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and has since spread globally to more than 70 countries and according to findings published in the journal of Nature Medicine is of natural evolution.
Despite public commentary, “analysis of public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered” peer reviewed medical research by numerous experts in the Departments of Immunology and Microbiology, The Scripps Research Institute, Center for Infection and Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York, NY, and the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK. refute the rumors and conspiracies of intentional spread of the disease.
Incubation and Spread Coronavirus Origins
COVID-19 is a new virus therefore, no-one has immunity it is highly infectious like many epidemics of the past. On the other hand, what sets this virus apart is has many strands, its permeability, as it spreads more rapidly than other virus’s like the measles. Additionally, what makes the corona-virus so insidious is people without symptoms can spread the virus much like herpes simplex. COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person and is primarily airborne. The virus is mainly transmitted through aerosols coughing or sneezing, talking, but you can also get it by contact with objects that infected people, who are not showing symptoms or feeling sick, have touched.
According to the CDC the incubation period is 2-14 days. However, there are possible outliers as there have been some cases of incubation up to 27 days, According to Annuls of Internal Medicine and The World Health Organization. Summary of findings Included: “Mean incubation period observed: (0 - 24 days range, study based on 1,324 cases) and 5.2 days (4.1 - 7.0 days range, based on 425 cases).”
Symptoms & Statistics
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, “film in the throat.” Physicians are reporting on rare occasions glands are not swollen, some cases of diarrhea, and damage in the lungs on x-rays. Many people have reported loss of sense of smell and tightening in the chest or chest pain with pneumonia. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
The worst cases, individuals on ventilators (about 20%) are surviving, many have co-morbidity. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, asthma, COPD are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention by calling their local hospitals and getting tested. Protocols are in place to keep patients and healthcare workers safe. Current Cases as of April 12, 2020- In the US according to the CDC Total cases: 525,704, Total deaths: 20,486. People who have recovered 436,082. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, said the WHO welcomes the signs of slowing in some European countries and wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone, but he said lifting them too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence of cases.
Vaccines and Safety
Many people are asking for antibiotics and or a quick vaccine to cure the corona-virus. Let’s first define bacteria versus a virus from a medical dictionary. ‘Bacteria is a microscopic, single-celled organisms that have some biochemical and structural features different from those of animal and plant cells while, a virus is a microorganism that is smaller than a bacterium that cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and to replicate itself. It may reproduce with fidelity or with errors or mutations; this ability to mutate is responsible for the ability of some viruses to change slightly in each infected person, making treatment difficult.”
As a result, viruses need a host. Viruses we have experienced in the past have become milder adapting to the host and/or vaccines have been given to keep us from contracting viruses that were deadly such as Polio, Measles, Rubella, and Mumps to name a few. Antibiotics are used to treat bacteria such as urinary tract infections, strep throat, some bacterial bronchitis or bacterial pneumonia not viral. Antibiotics work by reducing the growth of the bacteria viruses don’t work that way so they are ineffective with the corona-virus. CDC recommends wearing a mask when out, N95 are for medical workers and not necessary, washing hands frequently ,6 ft. away social distancing, some cases of sneezing etc. can be up 27 ft., and following stay at home orders.
Research & Development for Vaccines
Manufacturing vaccines safely is a complicated and arduous task. It takes between 7 to 36 months to produce, package and deliver vaccines. This includes testing each batch of vaccine at every step of its journey, and repeat quality control of batches by different authorities around the world. Research and Development barriers to entry, and the costs associated with vaccine production are the primary challenge. The Clinical Trial Process for COVID-19 Vaccine stated in Deep6ai software which compiles clinical data. “There need be a safeguard in place to confirm that a vaccine is effective and safe before using it on the general public. That’s particularly true if used on healthy people the last thing anyone needs are to make healthy people sick.”
There are safety nets in place for the public and medical professionals. One such system is The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). It is a national vaccine safety surveillance program run by CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). VAERS serves as an early warning system to detect possible safety issues with U.S. vaccines by collecting information about adverse events (possible side effects or health problems) that occur after vaccination. VAERS was created in 1990 in response to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Despite the immediate crisis, it will take time and billions of dollars to get candidates, testing and approval with global collaboration to combat the corona-virus pandemic. The goal of a vaccine to is trigger an immune response.
Vaccine Funding & Finances
The US government and President Trump passed a bill under the Emergency Funding Package investing $8.3 billion dollars for the US COVID-19 response. The package includes:
2.2 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for prevention, preparation and response efforts. Of that: $950 million is for grants to states and local agencies for surveillance, epidemiology, lab capacity, infection control, mitigation and communications. Half of that amount must be paid within a month of enactment.
$300 million for global disease detection and emergency response. $836 million to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with $10 million of that marked for worker-based training to reduce exposure for hospital employees and first responders. $3.1 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, which among other things will cover the development of countermeasures and vaccines, with a priority on platform-based technologies and on US manufacturers. It will also cover the purchase of vaccines, tests, therapies and necessary medical supplies for the Strategic National Stockpile.
$100 million for community health centers. $61 million to the FDA to cover staff salaries and expenses for prevention and response efforts, which include the development of vaccines, advanced manufacturing for medical products, the monitoring of medical product supply chains and other activities. Numerous resources for individuals and small business are available to help through this transition. Research federal, state, and local community resources to support you and your family’s needs during the COVID-19 transition back to the “new normal.”
In conclusion, many people are overwhelmed and anxious with the media fear mongering, scarce resources as toilet paper flies off the shelves. While others are lackadaisical, minimizing the severity we could face, if we don’t consider outcomes. More importantly, our choices could affect the more vulnerable. Helpful tools to know the facts not hearsay, research facts and myths on CDC and WHO. Please be kind and consider others, as this is a time to find balance, reconnect, heal ourselves and our world. The government, agencies, and healthcare leaders have to utilize crisis management strategies by preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. The experts are having to use careful risk analysis as they uncover new facts daily, weighing options as they navigate unknown territory. As of right now here is what we can do: Not jump to conclusions, attack, criticize but rather be a part of the solution by staying informed, being adaptable, creative, giving back, taking proper precautions for ourselves, loved ones, community and supporting healthcare workers as this is critical in overcoming the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay Safe!