Lack of information does not mean Covid is done

On average we convey 0.01 megabytes of data per day talking, or 0.0008MB in this column.

Not much is it?

That’s what our brains evolved over one million years to comprehend.

We are now plugged into an endless stream of broadcast and internet information, that many of us spend hours sifting through every day.

The net result?

A tsunami of input that we can’t possibly make sense of or remember.

Those that are loudest and most attention grabbing are by design the most memorable.

The quiet science and health announcements go by unnoticed by most, and a lack of information goes completely unnoticed.

This is the strange world we now occupy in New Zealand and around the world.

We have ridden a rollercoaster from daily pandemic messaging and advice to nothing.

Paradoxically, what we knew in 2020 was almost nothing, yet now we have the information, there is almost no public health messaging.

Vague statements about ‘‘staying safe’’ unfortunately don’t really help.

Disinformation campaigns have gone quiet also, as there is nothing to rebut. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as individualised public health — we are still all in this together. Road safety and smoking are good analogies. The gap in public advice about Covid is stark every day. And every day I ask patients about Covid-related issues. It is now clear almost nobody understands its spread is not from surfaces or droplets, but lingering aerosols, often from asymptomatic people. Proper ventilation and air filtration is completely foreign, yet should be widely known.

Respirator masks block more than 90% of transmission, while surgical and cloth masks are almost useless.

It takes less than one minute to breathe in infected aerosol, while universal N95 masking allows more than 24 hours of exposure. Washing hands does nothing at all, except stop food poisoning.

Vaccination was promising in 2020-21 but unmitigated spread of Omicron and variants have mutated so fast we only get moderate protection now and it is not enough.

Most people I meet have little idea you can get reinfected multiple times, often in less then a month.

Most worryingly, most people have never heard of long Covid and the ongoing damage 5%-10% of us will suffer, with fatigue, brain malfunction and lung problems common.

As we go into another wave of variant soup, protect yourselves by limiting indoor crowds, wear a mask and ventilate rooms.

The absence of information does not mean Covid is over.

Thanks, and Merry Christmas to all!