It is still going to be a very difficult winter. Distributing millions of vaccines will take months, so there will be a period where some people have natural immunity and others have vaccine immunity, while others remain vulnerable. Moreover, we don’t know how long vaccine immunity will last. While it would be great to get a vaccine on a Monday and celebrate your newfound immunity at a party on Tuesday, that’s not how it works. Those who are lucky to get a vaccine early in the process owe it to their communities to continue wearing masks and distancing until new cases and hospitalizations subside to near zero.”
—Dave O’Connor, PhD, University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Winter can be a difficult time for those with mental health issues, and also for people who have what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Here is a list covering a range of suicide hotlines and crisis lines worldwide for those who are struggling.
For those in the UK, here are some services available.
Samaritans UK & Ireland
Samaritans UK & Ireland offer 24-hour emotional support to anyone in distress or at risk of suicide throughout the UK & Ireland. They have 201 branches open 365 days a year, where people can also talk in person.
Tel: 116 123
Connect offers a free telephone counselling and support service for any adult who has experienced abuse, trauma or neglect in childhood. Their service is available from 6-10 pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
Tel: 1800 477 477 (Ireland)
Tel: 00800 477 477 77 ( UK and Northern Ireland)
Tel: 00353 (0) 1 865 7495 ( Outside ROI and UK)
Campaign Against Living Miserably Help and support for young men aged 15-35 on issues which include depression and suicide.
Tel: 0800 585858
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.
> Irish proverb
(This isn’t necessary a science quote, but I’m a sucker for a good proverb!).
The mind is not isolated from the world it lives in.
While writing one of my last posts, ‘The Effect of Coronavirus on Mental Health‘ – I wondered how things would improve. Before the pandemic began, many of us were already struggling. We were already dealing with poor mental health – the virus just put it in a vacuum. Life seemingly ground to a halt, pushing mental health issues to the forefront.
There has been an increase in mental health awareness, with governments and organisations providing guides and online support – but it feels temporary. With the focus on returning to normal as soon as possible, it’s easy to feel like the help won’t be available when that happens.
The above quote is from an article in Nature by Rochelle Burgess titled: ‘COVID-19 mental-health responses neglect social realities‘. It discusses how the spotlight on mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Burgess argues that these measures don’t take into account what people’s lives were like before and what’s been the main factor in their condition.
“There is increasing evidence through comparisons of what’s happening in different countries and in different states, in terms of mask usage and mandates, that masks help slow transmission of COVID-19. Of course, it would be ideal if everyone had access to high-quality masks, but masks do not have to be 100% effective to reduce one’s exposure to virus. At this point, any reduction helps. I think it is becoming clear that the benefits to wearing face coverings outweigh any downsides.”
— Linsey Marr, PhD, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Quote originally posted here.
On 12th July 1957, the US government became the first government to publicly link smoking to lung cancer. The Surgeon General, Dr. Leroy Burney, who was an epidemiologist (someone who looks at patterns and causes of various health and disease conditions), issued a report which stated:
‘It is clear that there is an increasing and consistent body of evidence that excessive cigarette smoking is one of the causative factors in lung cancer.’
This was an important statement because of how widespread smoking was at that time, and how much power lobbyists in the tobacco industry held. Unsurprisingly, The Tobacco Industry Research Committee rejected the study and complained about the methodology used. Continue reading “On This Day – 12th July”
But however secure and well-regulated civilized life may become, bacteria, Protozoa, viruses, infected fleas, lice, ticks, mosquitoes, and bedbugs will always lurk in the shadows ready to pounce when neglect, poverty, famine, or war lets down the defenses.— Hans Zinsser
Raising awareness versus raising alarm; the public can’t be better informed if the information isn’t better. — T.K. NALIAKA
In the wake of everything happening today, I think this is an important quote (unfortunately, I couldn’t find a source).
People are confused, scared and angry and as far as I can see, no one has really come up with an adequate way to keep the general public informed without regurgitating a series of numbers and data sets that won’t offset their anxiety.
“What’s the death count today?” is now common question as opposed to, “what’s the latest information?”
For example, while Wikipedia has an extensive timeline for COVID-19. When you click onto April, it’s mainly a report of cases and deaths – that’s great for statisticians, but not so much for the general public. The Financial Times has an interactive guide that is much better, but the graphs may be tiresome to people who don’t find them easy to follow.
General members of the public tend to feel at ease when they can understand what is happening. Presenting the information as numbers/data makes it difficult for everybody to follow what’s happening beyond the dark nature of COVID-19. Two months ago, it was unheard of to hear that 20,000+ people had died. Today, after hearing that hundreds have been dying every day – that number loses its bite.
It’s clear that information channels need to be improved in order to prevent alarm and desensitization to what’s happening.
That being said, it’s unsurprising that there are so many resources and not much clarity. A virus of this nature is one that nobody was prepared for. Here’s hoping that in time, the information will be better.
© Purplexed Science 2020
P.S. I’ve compiled a small list of resources here (and will continue to add to it).
What is a coronavirus?
Coronavirus is the scientific name for a group of viruses that cause things like common colds and more serious illnesses like SARS (severe acute respiratory symptom). They can be transmitted from humans to other humans or from animals to humans.
Why is it in the news today?
The coronavirus we’ve been hearing about is a new strain of the virus that nobody had come across before it struck patients in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China last year. It has now been named COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019), and is classified as a respiratory illness caused by virus strain SARS-COV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and as of yet, there is no vaccine.
It is currently a serious issue because of the rate at which it is spreading and the fact that it can be fatal.
As of writing there has been 1,923,651 reported cases and over 119,595 deaths globally (you can keep up to date with the current figures here).
How is it transmited?
During the initial stages of the outbreak, it was thought that there was animal-to-person spread originating in a seafood and live animal market. However, a lot of patients didn’t have any contact or exposure with animal markets suggesting that there is in fact person-to-person spread.
This has been the case in countries all across the world where it appears to be spreading easily due to a lack of social distancing, limited testing and poor hygiene practices when the first few cases began to appear. This led to a high level of person to person spread first in Italy, which became the new epicentre of the virus, and then the rest of Europe before the number of cases grew in the United States.
Person to person spread comes about when people come within six feet of an infected patient. It is thought that people are most contagious when they’re sick. The virus is spread through droplets produced by sneezing and coughing.
Although, currently the World Health Organisation doesn’t believe that COVID-19 is airborne, a research article in Environmental International states:
National authorities [should] acknowledge the reality that the virus spreads through air, and recommend that adequate control measures be implemented to prevent further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Will wearing a mask prevent transmission?
Much has been made of members of the public wearing face masks with the WHO reluctant to state that it’s a foolproof method of preventing transmission. While local authorities are suggesting that people wear cloth face masks while out and about, there is not yet enough evidence to say that they will stop people from catching COVID-19.
The question has remained: are masks effective when it comes to preventing droplets from spreading?
In short, no.
That’s the worrying answer a group of researchers in South Korea arrived at when they put surgical masks and cotton masks to the test. Continue reading “Why wearing a mask might not prevent the spread of coronavirus”