Breaking Down the Data: New Report Shows 60% of US has likely had COVID

At R-Zero we care deeply about the health of the world around us – as a company and as people in this society. As COVID spikes continue across the nation, new data taking a hard look at cases through the lens of the largest healthcare system in the US, the Department of Veterans Affairs*, finds that the continued impact of the infectious disease is likely worse than anyone imagined. 

“. . . it’s moving from being an acute, or shorter-term, infection to a chronic one.”

Some of the alarming findings: nearly 60% of US adults have likely had COVID, and as many as 25% of the population could experience long COVID (that is, COVID with long-term, chronic symptoms), leaving 12-15% of the population with liver, heart, lung and kidney damage as a result of contracting the disease. The new data also reveals a vast disparity in the number of people who think they’d been infected with COVID compared to those who had actually been infected.

Dr. Richard Wade, the chief scientist for R-Zero, expressed his concern recently that the mutated Omicron virus now acts more like the viruses that cause influenza or the common cold which are so easily contracted in shared spaces. However, the long-term impacts prove far more serious as compared to those viruses. . 

“These viruses are highly infectious, mutate rapidly, and cause symptoms that are less than lethal but provide symptoms that allow the virus to spread. These Omicron mutations are also making the virus stronger and smarter, better able to evade natural or vaccine-induced immunity, meaning COVID is evolving, and it’s moving from being an acute, or shorter-term, infection to a chronic one.

Prior to COVID, 30% of adults in the US dealt with substantial chronic disease; however, as a result of COVID, that number could easily increase to 42-45% or nearly half of the adult population. This could ultimately create substantial impacts to healthcare costs, quality of life, and the economy. 

“The public has likely grown tired of COVID, but the fact remains that we are far from being out of the woods with this virus. In fact, we may have to simply get used to living with it, requiring a serious paradigm shift in the way we live,” added Dr. Wade. 

During the Omicron variant spread, reinfection rates soared, increasing from a one percent reinfection rate with the Delta variant to a now 10% reinfection rate and growing. 

Research by Mayo Clinic provides concerning implications for the impacts and implications over the long term. In ten years, what will we look back and see? What will we look forward to and wish we knew? Research from John’s Hopkins University sheds some light onto that future and of those with Long COVID and highlights the pivot change in the trajectory, moving from an acute stage of health risk in the pandemic to a much more lasting, chronic disease stage.

The belief that if you’re infected once it could stop the reinfection and transmission has been disproven. New evidence shows the reinfections occur on a regular basis, with new strains gaining resistance to our original vaccines. For risk-prone populations, and the general population as well, getting infected multiple times increases the chances of acquiring long-term impacts, and this risk increases with every additional infection.

“COVID is not going away anytime soon, and the old way of protecting populations isn’t working,” said Dr. Wade. “As the virus evolves and we learn more about it and have more data to analyze, our solutions to keeping the public safer and healthier need to move from a short-term focus to a more permanent and ongoing approach.”

Going back to a shuttered world is not an option. Our society, or economy, and our productivity need to continue. Searching for and implementing passive mitigation options becomes more important and impactful to achieve long and short term longevity. Passive mitigation options allow us to carry on more regularly indoors; to work, play, learn, care, and innovate without as many restrictions and boundaries present.

Passive mitigation options allow us to carry on more regularly indoors; to work, play, learn, care, and innovate without as many restrictions and boundaries present.

A few passive mitigation options exist for indoor health and safety, but not all of them are convenient or provide the same level of safety. Of the passive options, leading industry experts agree that HVAC filters are limited in their efficacy against microorganism particulates. The expense of these systems, and their need to be changed often, makes them a poor choice for many organizations. Another passive option is Ionization. It can be used as part of an HVAC system or as specialized equipment placed in a room. This method achieves mixed results, and many studies indicate high exposure to ionized air, and its byproduct ozone, can be harmful to humans. The most beneficial and efficacious passive mitigation option is the use of UV-C light in upper air spaces (UVGI) to deactivate microorganisms in real-time which allows occupants the ability to gather, connect, and share spaces in real-time while reducing the risk of exposure to airborne microbes.

The bottom line to this research? We need to better explore ways to thrive even if the presence of COVID remains a strong factor in our society. Right now, we control how much impact we will see when we look back in 10 years.

Technologies like R-Zero’s provide a road to stability and thriving indoor environments.

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