Covid and Us - Dr. Jay Pomerantz,
By Sandra Sokol
Dr. Jay Pomerantz is a member of the Penn's Village Advisory Board,
He is also a medical reviewer for the Health and Wellness Blog.
Covid and Us
Jay M. Pomerantz, MD
I write this just as my wife has recovered from a moderately severe case of Covid. We are not young; my wife is in her late 70’s and I’m in my early 80’s. Like most folks our age we have other illnesses and vulnerabilities such as asthma, hypertension and cardiovascular issues. We have been careful, not going inside restaurants, avoiding large venues, and wearing our masks. We are not immunocompromised nor incapacitated in any way. We received our second booster doses of the Moderna vaccine one month before she got sick.
Her illness started with a cough and low-grade fever, as well as nausea, a runny nose and slight sore throat. The at-home Covid test was negative, but later that day (when her fever rose to 101) we sought out the more accurate polymer chain reaction (PCR) test. In less than 24 hours, at 4 am the following morning, my wife received a text. The results were in: she was positive. That was further confirmed when (a few hours later) the at-home test also turned positive.
The positive diagnosis text from curative.com was accompanied by a link offering to put us in contact with a physician who would do a telemedicine remote visit. We followed it and were able to set up a virtual visit within a couple of hours. The doctor determined that my wife met the high-risk criteria for antiviral treatment (mostly because she was very symptomatic and over 75). He prescribed Paxlovid. The Curative team then sent the prescription to a local, nearby Philadelphia pharmacy which had a supply of Paxlovid. I was able to pick up the
medicine an hour later.
The rest of the story is one of a 4-5 days of continuing and worsening symptoms with lots of tiredness and lack of appetite. Just as my wife finished the 5-day course of medicine the symptoms started to
dissipate. Follow up at-home daily testing is now negative.
After my wife’s positive test, we began to worry about me as I am older and always get very sick with the flu (despite immunization). If anything, my risk factors are somewhat greater than my wife’s. We started to wear masks in the apartment, opened windows and isolated from one another. As I continued without symptoms and
testing negative (one PCR and otherwise daily testing with the at-home kit), I went out for necessities (always masked) while my wife stayed home, mostly in bed.
I write this in early May 2022 when we are all tired of Covid 19 and trying to go about our lives as if the epidemic is over. Yet today, the number of infections in the Philadelphia is 1155 and that is an 11% increase from the day before (NY Times Corona Virus Tracker for 5/3/2022). That is not an outlier as much of the rest of the country is
on an upward tick as well. Average daily hospitalization is up as well—about 10% since last week according to data collected by the US Department of Health and Human Services. (CNN 5/3/2022)
It may be that the cause of the rise in infection rate is another new Omicron variant BA.2.12.1 or some similarly named highly infectious mutation. These new variants show surprising abilities to infect even
those previously immunized or infected.
It is also possible that the recent rise in infections and hospitalizations is
due to the relaxation of masking and spacing, as well as disillusion with the need for repeated immunizations.
To be fair, we should draw some solace from the apparent decline in mortality recently (due to a modest decline in viral virulence combined with a more immune population). Nonetheless between 300-400 Americans continue to die of Covid each day.
Optimism also comes from the new antiviral oral medicines like Paxlovid which show up to 89% effectiveness against severe disease (when taken within 5 days of the start of symptoms).
Perhaps, this story might have ended very differently had we not been immunized, including two booster doses, or been unable to secure a prescription for Paxlovid.