When the pandemic first started, people stopped going to preventative care appointments. According to data from the Health Care Cost Institute, vaccinations decreased by almost 60% in April. The nonprofit company looks at millions of health insurance claims and found that preventative screenings remained down by about a third at the beginning of the summer.
The most invasive procedures, like colonoscopies and mammograms, were the ones that took the hardest hit. For instance, colonoscopies dropped by 88% in mid-April and were still 33% lower than usual at the end of June. Mammograms fell 77% and stayed down 23%.
A big concern among public health officials and pediatricians is the drastic decline in childhood vaccinations. One that causes major unease is the drop in measles vaccinations, which plunged 73% in April and persisted with a 36% drop in June. Since measles vaccinations were already on the decline due to the anti-vaccination movement, experts fear there’ll be a spike in the number of measles cases in the future.
Initially, some experts thought that the dip in care would result in a high demand at some point in the future. This doesn’t seem to be the case so far, which has led experts to conclude that the deferred care might not return. The long-term impacts of this are unknown but could be substantial.
A recent study has shown that COVID-19 can have a serious, adverse effect on younger people. The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard and published in JAMA Internal Medicine after being peer-reviewed. It looked at 3,222 young adults hospitalized with COVID-19 from more than 400 hospitals across the country between April 1st and June 30th.
The study discovered that just over one-third were obese, and one quarter extremely overweight. Approximately one in five had diabetes and one in seven had hypertension. The numbers showed one in five required intensive care and one in 10 needed a ventilator to assist with breathing. Unfortunately, 88 of the young adults died, or about 2.7%. Among those who survived, 99 patients, or 3%, had to be transferred from the hospital to facilities for ongoing care or rehabilitation.
The study’s authors stress that despite the expansion in coronavirus cases among young people, the proportion who become so sick that they require hospitalization stays low. They also point out that those with chronic health problems are at greater risk, and some with no apparent vulnerabilities, to become acutely ill. Another area that much isn’t known about is the long-term consequences, if any, for young adults who were sick, but recovered.
Since experts predict we won’t be able to return to normal any time soon, we should be taking the necessary steps to decrease the chances of contracting the virus. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, we won’t return to normal until “well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021.” He estimates it will take that long to get a vaccine developed, widely distributed and people to take it.
Dr. Fauci also says, “we need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy.” He’s apprehensive that the number of cases will surge again as more people spend time indoors. Currently, he states, “We’re plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000.” There’s also thought the numbers could sharply increase in the next few weeks after Labor Day, similar to what we saw after Memorial Day and Fourth of July.