You are here

Marking milestones

By Karen Kier, Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

Many of us have important milestones in our lives including graduations and birthdays that we enjoy celebrating. Graduations this month are wonderful milestones for so many! Weddings are another important milestone and 2022 is marking the biggest year for weddings since 1984. I find this fact interesting because two of my personal milestones are my marriage in 1984 and my daughter’s upcoming marriage in 2022. I think we will be celebrating with so many others. The prediction is that over 2.5 million nuptials will take place in 2022, which is a big boom for the wedding industry! This explains my Pinterest notifications.  

Not all milestones are things we want to celebrate, but rather mark a more tragic or sad moment in our lives. This week marks a sad occasion for the United States.  After the first COVID-19 case was reported in the United States over 28 months ago, we have recorded 1 million deaths. This sad milestone has touched so many lives. It has touched our lives as well. April marked the two-year anniversary of the loss of my mother-in-law to COVID-19.  

In November 2021, I reported the number of children in the United States who had lost a primary or secondary caregiver. At that time, the published number was roughly 140,000 children. The number of children who have lost a parent as of May 12, 2022 has reached about 250,000. Many milestones for these children will be challenging because of their losses.  

The Unites States has now exceeded 84 billion cases of COVID-19 and for many the lingering effects are still present. The first study to compare long-term effects of COVID-19 in those who were hospitalized and recovered to a group of individuals who did not have a COVID-19 infection was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. The two-year study followed people from January 2020 to January 2022.    

The study found that 55% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 had persistent symptoms two years after the acute COVID-19 infection. The most common concerns were for muscle weakness and feeling tired. At six months post infection, 68% of patients had long COVID symptoms. The study did demonstrate symptom improvement over time.  For example, anxiety and depression dropped from 23% of the individuals to 12% at two years. An additional finding within the study was an improvement in the six-minute walking test over a two-year time frame.  This test measures how far one can walk within that six-minute time frame and shows a level of endurance versus exhaustion with exercise.  This study confirms results from other literature on long COVID-19 and the need for improved treatments and research  

A study published in the British Medical Journal validated a new tool for measuring long COVID-19 in individuals.  The tool is titled the Symptom Burden Questionnaire for Long COVID (SBQ-LC).  The tool comprises 17 independent scales measuring many health aspects including breathing, blood flow, pain, tiredness, and reproductive/sexual health.  

Many scientists believe SARS-CoV-2 viral particles stay in the body longer than the actual infection.  Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) documented viral cells in patients’ gastrointestinal tracts up to 7 months after the acute infection.  Many believe this helps to explain the lingering symptoms of COVID-19.  

A small series of patients with long COVID-19 at UCSF were treated with the antiviral Paxlovid by Pfizer. The patients had an improvement in long-term symptoms when the antiviral was added. This small number of patients may provide further evidence of lingering viral particles in the body.  

Paxlovid is the combination of two drugs that has been shown to reduce death and hospitalization by 89% if started shortly after testing positive for COVID-19. The emergency use authorization is for a five-day course of therapy.  Reports have surfaced of individuals where the five-day course has worked to suppress the virus but after the five-day course ends, the patient’s symptoms rebound. Pfizer has asked the FDA to extend the dosing for ten days to prevent the rebound viral effect. To date, the FDA has not acted on this request. 

Paxlovid and other antivirals such as molnupiravir were provided emergency use authorization by the FDA for acute infections of SARS-CoV-2. Healthcare providers need to establish if the person is considered at high risk of severe disease. The oral antivirals are for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. The patient must have a positive test by either PCR or rapid antigen test (many home kits). Individuals are still eligible for antiviral therapy if they are fully vaccinated.  The FDA has a COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator to find an antiviral prescribing and dispensing site.  

COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters continue to be recommended to help prevent severe disease.  Ask your healthcare professional or the pharmacists at ONU HealthWise for more information. 

Reach more milestones!

ONU HealthWise is offering COVID-19 including boosters Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Call the pharmacy for an appointment for other time slots. The ONU HealthWise pharmacy offers Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Call the pharmacy to get more information. 

ONU HealthWise Pharmacy