Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Part II of II on COVID-19: Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm's Experience with Long-Term COVID

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

Minnesotan Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, was interviewed by Rachel Hutton for the Star Tribune, July 29, 2023, about his experience with long-covid.

I think to say that it is chilling is appropriate.

Hutton tells us how it happened. In March beginning with a celebration of Osterholm's 70th birthday,to which "a few (tested) guests (had been invited) for dinner and attending a small, uncrowded music show (wearing an N-95 mask). And yet, he got his first SARS CoV-2 infection.

Turns out it was a whopper.

Conversation segments are highlighted and for each I include material by Hutton.

--After three years of educating people about Covid, you finally got it. Osterholm "was one of three (guests) infected. There was one time when they were maskless-a short elevator ride."

--When did you develop long COVID symptoms?  "By week three and four the fatigue (settled) in. And I started having memory loss." The latter began to disappear, "but the fatigue persisted." Recovery from this fatigue took much longer. "I've really started to feel as if I'm fully back" during the last 90 days.

--What was it like experiencing an illness that can last for years? COVID's intellectual challenge had been"in terms of what I dealt with in all the anger, and hate, and science. It became a very emotional issue" after the infection. "It...gave me more empathy for those who have had persistent, serious, long COVID." (my emphasis)

--COVID hospitalizations and deaths have diminished. What are your concerns now? He doesn't think we will experience the COVID years of 2020 - 2022) but we now have changing variants. We are "becoming less immune" as "protection from both vaccine and infection wanes." Then he says what perhaps we all know: "it's not done with us yet. ... hope is not a good strategy."

--Can you give us a preview of your forthcoming book? "It's about the lessons we should have learned from this pandemic." The scaling back of research, dismantling of our public health system, layoffs, etc.

--What do these kinds of cuts mean? Here is the equation. Add the above to "the lack of trust that exists in the public health system. I think we are less prepared for the future than we were in 2029 and 2020."  (my emphasis) "What if we had the holy grail vaccine that actually had borad protection, durability, and could be administered (worldwide) without a minus-30-degree cold chain?"

--What's a worst-case scenario we might face? SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrom) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome...killed 15 to 35% of the people it infected" BUT "were not as infectious as SARS-CoV-2" which "only killed a half percent of people." Biologically, what could happen is "a coronavirus that is as infectious as SARS-CoV-2 and kills at the same rate as MERS and SARS." (my emphasis).

--What's your advice about the new boosters coming out later this summer and fall? "Please get boosted."

The article is behind a paywall but is titled for those of you who have access "Osterholm learns firsthand what long COVID does." (July 29, 2023 Star Tribune, Rachel Hutton reporting)

I have not found mention of or a link to Hutton's reporting or even tangentially related information on the website found above.

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