I know - we have vaccines and COVID is less dramatically deadly (though it IS still killing people - per the NYT, more than 2,200 Americans during the first week of January). But the vaccines are only about 54% effective against symptomatic infections, you can still get and spread it if you are vaccinated, the virus continues to change, and there are many other health consequences no one seems to be considering.
After waking up from at least two car-caused bike crashes (and one actual car crash) with no memory of what happened to this day, I now wear a helmet when riding my bike. I wear a seat belt to avoid expensive, debilitating car crash injuries or death. I quit smoking to avoid health and financial disasters in my later life. I wash my hands, take bone-supporting vitamins, and try to avoid dangerous chemicals and contaminants in food. And, I wear a mask when in public to avoid getting and spreading COVID.
1. Every time someone gets COVID, the virus has an opportunity to mutate into something more contagious, more dangerous, more resistant to medical interventions. We need fewer walking incubators, so I wear a mask.
2. The list of damages even a mild case of COVID can cause continues to grow, with even worse outcomes for those who get it more than once. Here are a few, in no particular order:
- The risk of new-onset dementia after Covid in older adults (age 60+) from a systematic review of 11 studies vs controls is ~60% increased; after severe Covid, a 17-fold increased risk; shows up at 6 months, according to a new paper being prepared for The Lancet (quoting a tweet from Dr. Eric Topol)
- Almost every system in the body can be affected, sometimes permanently
- The virus remains in your body ("zombie COVID") and can cause other issues later on
- Babies born to infected mothers have a high risk of respiratory difficulties and issues with neurodevelopmental changes
Children who get long COVID may be in for a lifetime of struggles. Plus vascular trauma.
- Fit, healthy, vaccinated young adults with mild COVID are experiencing many reinfections and long COVID
- COVID has reproductive health consequences
- COVID is still particularly dangerous for elders who may have more underlying health conditions and fewer resources to access medical care
- Oh yes, I forgot this one. Twenty percent of COVID patients develop mental illness within 90 days according to a 2020 Oxford University study
- And accelerated biological aging in COVID patients
3. The health and financial effects on families and especially on children and their future adult selves can be terrible (as if trying to figure out how to survive on a burning planet won't be challenging enough).
4. Long COVID. While vaccinations reduce one's risk of getting long COVID, who, really, wants to roll those dice, especially with medical costs (and bankruptcies) rising and health systems in many communities breaking down? Do I want to spend the last years of my life wracked with pain or in a brain-fog or unable to function? I do not.
- Long COVID neurological consequences
- Severe muscle damage
- Extreme quality of life impairment
- Similarities to chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis or HIV or brain injury
5. Fellow humans. If we can make life safer and healthier for ourselves and others, why wouldn't we? Our actions are truly our only possessions.
I follow the experts. Dr. Eric Topol has free regular updates. Dr. Eric Ding on Twitter shares updates and studies. Dr. Rae Duncan is a doc & researcher with first-hand experience in what's happening.
Good masks (not those silly blue things) are not expensive and can be used several times. Check out the Mask Nerd for advice if you are re-thinking your mask-free life.