Restrictions are over but Covid’s still here

After 985 days we have moved on.

The question is, to what?

Many have Covid fatigue, and that’s OK.

The health system can’t stop dealing with Covid-19, unfortunately.

I’m not ‘‘sick of Covid’’, the same as I’m not sick of heart disease. Healthcare workers must keep giving treatment and advice.

We keep up with an avalanche of new information daily, unlike a yearly update on say, diabetes.

People are now told to judge their risk (except in health and aged-care facilities), but this is impossible without extensive reading.

We’re now very much relying on treatment rather than reducing transmission.

Antivirals and vaccines have massively reduced mortality, but transmission remains high.

Even in the current trough, around 1:200 people you meet will have Covid.

A million Kiwis have not had a vital first booster, and under 5s remain unvaccinated.

Bivalent boosters are coming, but VOC BA.2.75.2 evades current BA.5 antibodies.

Our immune system hammers see every variant as the same nail, known as original antigenic sin.

Novavax shows promise in early data at stopping infection.

Antivirals are more widely available; GPs can provide advanced scripts, ready if you test positive.

Seek (free) advice even with a mild case, it may be important in the future.

We are seeing many with Covid/long Covid who have delayed.

Estimates of long Covid incidence are up to 10% of cases, and several percent of the workforce are unable to work.

This week a large study showed a 69% increase in dementia.

That brain fog is not mild. We have long Covid patients <10 and >90.

For these reasons Covid should still be avoided.

Fortunately we know exactly how to stop transmission.

Infection happens in a few minutes in a contaminated room.

Vaccines Plus, or the ‘‘Swiss Cheese’’ approach, uses multiple imperfect and incomplete layers of mitigation to reduce risk to near zero.

A surgical mask alone is possibly useless.

A fitted N95 mask reduces risk around 80%.

Using HEPA air filters as well will reduce risk to <1%.

Ventilation that changes all the room air several times an hour is another layer.

Upper room UV light is completely sterilising to the 1›5 micron floating aerosols that are inhaled.

Isolating when sick and Rat testing prior to gatherings are the final simple layer.

Covid, like flu, will never become ‘‘endemic’’, but remain an epidemic illness that we can live with normally, and avoid poor long-term health.