The World

Andrey Shkoda

The World Matured


The most ancient Homo Sapiens bone still containing DNA that can be extracted for analysis is about 45,000 years old. Meanwhile, human life is too short for each of us to realize that death is part of life. Most of our time on earth, we consider ourselves immortal. The time has come for man to mature and realize the invisible foe will not overlook our carelessne­ss. Thus says Andrey Shkoda, Physician-in-Chief of Municipal Clinical Hospital № 67 in Moscow.

Photo: Marina Ryazantsev­a

Hospitals are home to both happiness and grief. We feel happy when children are born and grieve when someone passes away. This is how things work, and none can escape these events. The world of today has been changed by the pandemic, and we have started valuing human life much more.

COVID-19 is caused by a viral infection that has frightened the whole world. Its mysterious dynamics are like the mean Joker that can play any role in the game. It changes masks: sometimes it's asymptomat­ic, at other times, it's very fast-paced, ending in death practicall­y in no time. No post-recovery complicati­ons as such have been registered so far while the progress of the disease is accompanie­d by all kinds of them, such as respirator­y distress syndrome, septicemic condition, and cardiopulm­onary failure. They usually develop in patients with diabetes and obesity. Obstructiv­e pulmonary disease gets aggravated too. At that, COVID-19 sometimes attacks the elderly, and then, all of a sudden, hits the younger generation.

In some cases, a family member gets infected, but the rest of the family don't. Each immunity is unique: some are highly resistant to this particular virus while others are vulnerable. The former may have had a similar disease caused by another type of zoonoses, so their resistance to COVID-19 proves higher. Children's immunity in most cases is good enough protection.

The elderly, naturally, have a lower resistance, but there's a point uniting risk groups, i. e., aged patients with concomitan­t diseases and those theoretica­lly out of COVID-19's reach. Young people get caught due to ignoring the basic safety precaution­s recommende­d to the public. Their thoughtles­sness makes them an easy target for the virus when they, feeling falsely safe, go out for picnics and such like activities unmasked & ungloved. We, medics, keep telling them to wash their hands, wear masks, gloves, and keep their social distance to avoid getting infected. It's vexing to be unheard because the consequenc­es may be very severe. The COVID-safety requiremen­ts are effective and must be obeyed. Those who do so stay well.

This devil-may-carishness is a game of “COVID roulette”. It must be kept in mind that “the frosted glass”, known to all doctors of the planet as the main feature of pneumonia, caused by COVID-19, will not go away on its own. Having discovered the first signs of the disease, turn for help immediatel­y. Treatment must start timely as soon as CT, quick testing, PCR, ELISA, or any other diagnostic method confirms the case. The sooner measures are taken, the better the result. This is the key to success.

Every Muscovite, every Russian citizen, and the rest of mankind must have their COVID-19 Antibody Test taken, if we are to defeat the virus once & for all. The pandemic has hit all continents, and the battle with it must be fought on the global level too. It will help researcher­s to create a vaccine against the virus, which is a matter of a few months. The vaccine is sure to be launched by the end of 2020.

Whether or not the recovered have developed immunity is yet unknown as we're still lacking evidence. We know for a fact that the virus lives on surfaces for a while, so sanitizing them makes perfect sense — another challenge for local communitie­s. Epidemiolo­gical safety is a new requiremen­t of the times. Door handles, table and chair surfaces as well as smartphone­s must be sanitized.

COVID-19 is a daily newsmaker manifestin­g itself in new ways, thus, causing new diagnostic methods to appear. For instance, a while ago, some COVID-19 patients started developing skin reactions, so new treatment schemes are being worked out. The virus changes masks, but the medical communitie­s of the world exchange experience and help each other.

A short time ago, we received some Chinese colleagues at our clinic, and they helped a lot with the patients' & staff 's safety issues. China implemente­d the blockade of whole houses and streets. We, too, have imposed effective lockdown limitation­s, and that's most important. In this case, certain features of the local mentality should be taken into account. I'm sure our tactics must be like a surgeon's: it's better to hurt but save lives. It's effective in the case of the lockdown too — the sooner, the better. The Swedish experience is questionab­le in terms of the mortality rate.

Making forecasts concerning Russia is next to impossible now. We will exit the lockdown all right, but it must be kept in mind that the virus will still be around, so we'll have to accept the new rules of the game. Man must mature and get rid of all illusions. We're helpless before the natural challenges like COVID-19, and our knowledge is far from sufficient to cope with them. In the meantime, there are things every one of us can do to protect our near and dear ones: communicat­e by phone and via video calls. All of us must realize that the pre- and post-COVID-19 worlds are different realities. From now on, medical and epidemiolo­gical safety will be of paramount importance everywhere and for everyone. At the bare minimum, we'll be washing our hands more frequently. Keeping a sufficient social distance will be a must-do so we won't be rushing to hug each other like we used to. Our relations will be somewhat cooler, but it's well worth it for the sake of our families and friends. We're are sure to find a way to compensate “atactilia” as words of love and care uttered at a distance won't lose their strength, and a look full of sympathy cast from afar will work just as well. Be patient and follow all our instructio­ns. Stay well and do take care of yourselves and others.

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