EVERY DAY LIFE in year 4 of the pandemic: Where do we go from here?

March 31st, 2023

Started in February 2020, the SAJO blog is providing information about pandemics, pathogens, infectious diseases and further important topics.

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Dear readers,

A pandemic is a process that over the course of time is changing its trajectory. Its underlying dynamics is impossible to predict. This is the reason we are writing updates on a regular basis, informing and advising on how best to get through this situation. In the end, each individuum has to decide on him/herself on how to behave and what risk is worth taking. We merely can give a guideline on how to deal with the current situation, and how to interpret the hodgepodge of regulations and missing information, all depending on the federal state you are living in. The virus is the same globally – depending on the subtype – and the ensuing danger is depending on individual behavior and immune status.

We observe that in the beginning of the pandemic there were over-regulations, sometimes even senseless, differing from state to state, a chaotic mélange. We think this was due to fear from the virus, the lack of knowledge about this new foe. Surprising for us was the fact, that the German Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI) had had developed a pandemic plan, that was merely kept in the drawer. Probably owing to the fact that the RKI is not an independent entity but subordinated to the minister of health. The overregulation of the beginning months then was followed by no regulation at all by the new government, thus putting all of us under threat.

One important source of information all around the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic came from the United States. However, after three years the Johns-Hopkins-University (JHU) has stopped its regular updates with current data on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

On its homepage it explains that this happened because the US authorities no longer publish their recent numbers. Since this site is from a US university, financed by US tax payers, its decision is understandable.

This does not mean, however, that for the JHU the pandemic is over. It states on its site “This does not mean Johns Hopkins believes the pandemic is over. It is not.” A simple, yet unambiguous statement.

The pandemic course with time has changed: The majority of people in the meantime have acquired a certain level of immunity, be it after one or several bouts of infection, by vaccination(s), or a combination thereof.

The emergence of the omicron variant also changed things. The virus mostly infects the upper respiratory tract, leading to less severe cases. This is a double-edged sword, for now an infection does NOT necessarily lead to a good immune protection, i.e., multiple rounds of infection may ensue.

Concomitantly, an upper respiratory tract infection results in symptom-free virus transmission, meaning an infected individual is not aware that it is spreading the pathogen. This finally leads to yet more opportunities for the virus to mutate. The more infections the more mutations.

Only last week a report was released about a new variant XBB.1.16 circling globally. It seems to be connected with a higher COVID-19 incidence, but there is not much more to be known right now.

Important to us is now that the virus is constantly bringing new variants. Each variant may, or may not, have an influence on the pandemic’s course. Viral evolution for all the world to see.

Each infected person is bearing a certain risk to develop sequelae. According to a recent study, 10 % of patients will develop long covid, meaning they are affected for weeks to months.

Several German health insurance providers reported that the number of sick leaves over more than 30 to 40 days have increased significantly, and in consequence the continuations of payment by the employers. Sick leave had decreased in the early days of the pandemic, after the introduction of hygiene and distancing rules. After the revoking of these measures in 2022, infection numbers soared. The economy had to bear the costs for not protecting their employees and the rest of the society.

We want to note that in countries like the US there is no such continuation of payment for a longer period. These social benefits are pretty unique. They are one reason why Germany fared better in this pandemic than the US, where one sick day means one day without pay.

The occupation with most sick leaves in Germany was the child-care sector! This should come as a surprise to all those people who continue to believe that children a) are immune, and b) do not spread a pathogen. This perception was biological nonsense. This is where all those are contradicting themselves who otherwise are happily sending their children to measles parties, to make sure their kids contract the virus. It is pure ideology.

How to protect yourself now?

We are donning N95 masks indoors. This is called risk avoidance. Most of our colleagues are doing the same. However, the general public does not. Most people do not avoid certain situations. They are risking not just COVID-19 but sequelae.

Sequelae do not just include long covid. We had reported about two studies covering late sequelae in the cardiovascular and neurological systems:

The immune and vascular systems may also be affected.

Hence, we advise a full vaccination, irrespective of previous infection(s). A bout with the disease on itself does not offer adequate immune protection.

Now we are observing two things: For one, viral evolution is ongoing before our face. To the general public and our politicians, however, the virus and its development are invisible again. General immune protection provided by omicron infections will wane fast over summer, but the vaccine induced protection will do so too with time.

This means nothing else but to protect oneself, especially in fall/winter season 2023. Vaccinations should be refreshed or – better yet – adjusted. An annual SARS-CoV-2 vaccine will come, maybe even as a combo with a flu shot.

Pandemics are aggravated by climate change. Both are connected, both are a result of our lifestyle (destroying our environment and ignoring pathogens and hygiene in our daily routines).

It is in our own best interest to slow down climate change, we can no longer prevent it. Thus, every country needs to take action, NOW! To wait for everyone to be aboard means this will never happen. The argument that Germany is only responsible for 2, 3 or 4 % of greenhouse gas emission and therefore does not need to act, is hollow: If my chihuahua is leaving its droppings on the pavement, this is nothing compared to the neighbor’s Great Dane. Please think yourself about the conclusion.

The accelerating climate change will result in a world affected by water shortage. Nature published an article with graphics about SCORCHED EARTH. Please, take a look for yourself:

Many more parameters, pushing climate change, are not even included. It is a highly complex system, that has not been fully incorporated in mathematical models. The surprise will hit us all on this planet – much earlier than expected.

Take care, stay healthy, and think about the one or other change in your lifestyle. This goes for everyone on this planet.

The Easter holidays are at hand. Is yet another air trip or car ride for vacation really necessary? To those of us, who are aware of the consequences, it NO longer is a status symbol. Today, less may mean more. To be able to does not mean to have to.

We wish you happy and pleasant holidays!

Yours, Joerg and Sabine

Dr. Sabine Breun and Dr. Joerg Baumann, both PhDs, virologists, immunologists, molecular biologists and founders of SAJO. Both are specialized in infectious diseases. Since the 90s, Dr. Baumann has been working on zoonoses and how pathogens overcome the species barrier. Since 2000, Dr. Breun works on the interaction of viruses with the immune system. Both work as team. SAJO enables new antivirals – antivirals of the next generation to fight pandemics.
During their scientific carreers, both performed scientific work for 5 years at the National Cancer Institute in a US elite program on competitive US scholarships.

SAJO – for a healthy and better future!

SAJO is consulting all around infectious diseases. We are applying our know-how, that we have acquired in more than 20 years. We do what we can to fight this pandemic.

This is post No. 248. To our delight our blog is receiving a lot of readers, we love to share our know-how and expertise. Please feel free to share the link – it is an informative tool to fight this pandemic.

(Note: We are no members of political parties, religious congregations, or societies. We value independence, sovereignty, and freedom. With our blog we are providing purely scientific advice, without conflict of interest, altruistic. We are not being paid for it.)

The SAJO high technology (the heart of SAJO) allows for the identification and isolation of next generation antiviral and antibacterial components for the development of new drugs, for prevention or therapy. This is what we do best – these are our USP and our strength.

#1 We want to treat, cure and prevent infectious diseases with new therapeutic drugs. Calls for investments and financing are open. If you aim at the same goal, then please get into contact with us.

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Visit Sabine at XING and Jörg at LinkedIn