Brace yourselves: Covid-19 winter is coming. Coronavirus continues to ravage the world as we speak. At the latest count, the virus-infected 51 million people and killed 1.27 million worldwide. The United States has 10.4 million cases of infections and claimed more than 247,000 lives since March.
Promising vaccines are within reach of FDA approval. But, it can be weeks away at best and months at worst between now and an available vaccine. Now is not the time for complacency. With the approach of winter, things can get from bad to worse if you’re not careful.
With a spate of holiday approaching, Americans will start huddling indoors. Tradition dictates going home to family. While heartwarming, this can hasten the transmission of the virus.
Public health officials worry about the coming winter holidays beginning with Thanksgiving. These events guarantee to bring people from different places together. Considering the isolation, many people are dying to reconnect with their families. These family gatherings can pose the most risk. Research shows that the coronavirus can spread easily through entire households.
No National Plan, Yet
The US remains without a national coronavirus plan in effect. Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist at UW Medicine in Seattle, is preparing for the worst. “There isn’t much we can do to prevent what we think is going to be about 2,200 deaths a day by Jan. 1,” he said. Meanwhile, epidemiologist Dr. Kelly Henning believes “This is a very scary moment.” She noted that “People are feeling some fatigue. But the virus is not. It’s continuing to circulate.”
Adding to the danger are the overworked medical specialists. According to Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew, critical care pulmonologist at National Jewish Health, many health professionals remain exhausted with the continued admissions of Covid-19 patients. He said: “There is a lot of sadness and fatigue. There’s burnout from dealing with this for months.”
Coronavirus and Cold Weather
Common colds and flu thrive during the winter season. Research shows that the influenza virus’s outer fatty membrane solidifies into a gel at freezing or near-freezing temperatures. A thickened membrane allows the influenza virus to survive in cooler temperatures. And survive the transfer from person to person.
Similar to influenza, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has an enveloped membrane. It’s very possible it can adapt to the cold weather and develop a thicker outer skin. This makes the coronavirus sturdier and more effective in spreading itself.
Why Would Winter Make Covid-19 Deadlier?
Influenza cases rise in winter due to temperature and humidity. Also, Covid-19 can survive longer in cold, dry air, and low humidity, as in temperate winters. Meanwhile, low humidity increases the evaporation of respiratory viral droplets into smaller aerosol particles. These can stay longer in the air, increasing the risk of airborne transmission. Low humidity also allows the virus to survive longer indoors.
Of course, winter means people huddled indoors for warmth. This can lead to overcrowding, which increases the chances of transmission and infection. A tougher virus and huddled masses are the recipes for bigger outbreaks.
Vaccines on the way
Earlier today, Pfizer and BioNTech announced the initial results of their Phase 3 trials. The coronavirus vaccine candidate reported a 90% effectiveness rate. This is better than the expected 50-60% rate.
Pfizer expects to complete the safety data later this month. Once finished, they will apply for emergency approval. And if that gets an OK from the feds, it’s a go. The first million doses will ship to waiting for customers like the US government.
Pfizer/BioNTech is part of Operation Warp Speed
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was made in collaboration with Operation Warp Speed. OWS is the Trump Administration’s program that supports the development of coronavirus vaccines.
Last July, Pfizer announced the vaccine’s development in collaboration with Operation Warp Speed.
According to Breitbart: “The Covid-19 [coronavirus] vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is being produced as part of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, the revolutionary public-private partnership launched earlier this year to speed the development, production, and distribution of vaccines to protect against the virus.” Pfizer’s Facebook page posted the collaboration last July 22.
Watch this as Bloomberg Quicktake asks: Will Covid-19 Get Worse in Winter?
Are you prepared for a Covid-19 winter? Do you have enough protections in place? Moreso, are you practicing safety measures to avoid the virus? Share any tips or knowledge you may have to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus. Or, share your thoughts in the comments section below.