COVID-19 – What we’ve learned in the last year that will benefit us in the years to come.
March 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Mississippi. As of this time, over 311,000 Mississippians are known to have been infected with the virus.
We have learned in the last year there are measures we can take to reduce our risk for illness. Caseload numbers in Mississippi are improving, and by continuing with preventive measures we can continue to see this trend.
At a recent press conference State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said, “We’re not done with the COVID pandemic. COVID is real. And we’re really winning.”
Preventive Measures and COVID-19
Mississippians can continue to protect themselves by adopting and maintaining good preventive measures. These can also be effective for other viruses, including the flu and common cold, so even those who are vaccinated can benefit. Many businesses have also implemented preventive measures such as social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, temperature checks and more frequent cleanings.
These measures can help keep our individual risk low:
Washing Hands – Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Simple. Easy. Effective.
Hand Sanitizer – If soap isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Use disinfectant on frequently touched household and personal items: steering wheels, doorknobs and handles, phones, light switches, keys, wallets, etc.
Visit with family and friends outdoors if possible.
Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth.
Take precautions in public places by wearing a well-fitted mask and practicing social distancing.
Talk with friends and family members about their exposure risk prior to visiting.
Healthy Lifestyle Practices & COVID-19
It has been well documented for many years that healthy lifestyle practices will reduce a person’s risk for developing metabolic conditions. This last year, the benefits of these practices were highlighted when it was discovered those with metabolic conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes were much more likely to develop severe and even fatal symptoms of COVID-19.
While research is still being done, this may be related to how these conditions and COVID-19 effect our blood vessels. However, these findings suggest that healthy lifestyle practices, particularly those that prevent metabolic conditions, can give you a greater chance of recovering more quickly and completely from COVID-19. Adding daily exercise, eating heart-healthy foods and avoiding substances such as cigarettes can also help.
Medical Breakthroughs & COVID-19
Another impressive outcome of the last year is the amount of medical breakthroughs. Researchers and medical professionals from all over the world partnered together to share everything from transmission data to treatment strategies. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines granted emergency use authorization were developed and distributed in record-setting time.
Traditional vaccines rely on the cultivation of the virus, either dead or weakened, for development. Because these vaccines rely on the laboratory cultivation of the virus, their development and production can take years. The mRNA vaccine, which teaches human cells to make a protein that stimulates an immune response against the virus, was developed and distributed in a record-setting 11 months. For the development of the mRNA vaccine only the genetic code is necessary, not the cultivated virus. In fact, the Moderna vaccine was created only 2 days after the virus’ genetic sequence was made public. This was the fastest timeline of development in the history of vaccines.
And, the technology behind the mRNA vaccine is not just applicable to COVID-19. Lessons learned through the studies of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments will lead to the development of new technologies that will provide better treatment and prevention strategies for other diseases, including cancers and the flu.
Mississippians age 16 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Remember, continuing with preventive measures and adopting healthy lifestyle habits can give us an advantage over COVID-19 and other health conditions in the years to come.