On June 30th, Silicon Valley Global Health facilitated our 7th podcast episode in partnership with Aaroogya International. Led by questions from the co-founder of Aaroogya, Dr. Priyanjali Datta, professor and founding chairman of the Emergency Medicine department at Stanford University and director of the South Asia Outreach Center for Asian Health Research and Education Dr. SV Mahadevan, discussed the COVID crisis and how the global population can prevent a 3rd and 4th wave.
According to Dr. Mahadevan, the second COVID wave spread primarily because of COVID’s asymptomatic nature. Because many patients did not experience symptoms, many spread the virus unknowingly. To avoid this same mistake, Dr. Mahadevan discussed, the global population must primarily 1) understand and avoid high risk environments where COVID can easily spread, 2) maintain pristine hand hygiene habits, and 3) get vaccinated. High risk environments include situations like being in a crowded setting or indoors in a group with poor ventilation and without masks. Even an exposure of 5-10 minutes in a high-risk environment is enough for the virus to transmit itself among those present. Frequent hand washing with soap and water is also paramount to avoiding COVID. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. Finally, Dr. Mahadevan’s primary advice is to get vaccinated as soon as you can to avoid the proliferation of COVID.
How can you know if you have COVID-19? The most assured way is to get tested for the virus; however, if you do not have access to a testing center, you must quarantine immediately if you suspect that you have been exposed to the virus in a high-risk situation, or are experiencing symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose, vomiting, fatigue, and/or loss of smell or taste. In the event that you are symptomatic, Dr. Mahadevan emphasizes the importance of monitoring symptoms, especially those related to breathing, and maintaining healthy, consistent diet and hydration habits. Learn to check your oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter, and measure your respiratory rate for your number of breaths per minute. If you experience difficulty breathing, especially doing easy tasks or even resting, are taking breaths at more than 30 times per minute, record less than 94% oxygen saturation, are experiencing chest pain, confusion, or dizziness, or cannot eat or drink, you should go to an emergency health care center to receive treatment immediately.
If a patient has had COVID--even without symptoms--it is possible that the patient will develop long COVID syndrome, wherein symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, headache, racing heart, chest pain, joint aches, and psychiatric afflictions like depression, stress and anxiety affect a COVID patient through 4 weeks and beyond after the COVID virus has left the body. Thus, Dr. Mahadevan emphasizes that even those who are asymptomatic are not totally safe from further affliction after the virus course. Additionally, for those who have recovered from a severe symptomatic COVID infection, there can be other long lasting effects on the lungs and heart, as both are weakened by a severe COVID infection.
You can view the podcast episode using the link below: