Introduction to COVID-19 pandemic

The wildfire of the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading through the world. The arsonists, all while hiding the matches, are offering their help to clean up the burned places by providing some essential protective necessities – all while being praised by the media which has always been in awe of autocratic regimes, starting with German and Italian fascists and their variants. The local Wuhan, China epidemic became a pandemic. The world has to handle this very much self-inflicted wound.

The tragic death count is on display, and the economic losses are well known, the current quarantine restrictions have changed the lives of people around/throughout the world. However, the unaccounted for result of COVID-19 is apparently a pandemic of fear. As a normal protective mechanism of living species, fear becomes damaging in excess for individuals, and is dangerous for politicians who are operating in the public eye of the masses.

These introductory words preclude my presentation of some issues pertaining predominately to safety in anatomic pathology laboratories under COVID-19 conditions. However, the observations and recommendations can be extrapolated to other individual and collective safety issues. They are written from the perspective of my experience as a Chief of Sanitary-Epidemiological Station back in Karelia, Russia, an experimental immunologist (PhD program), a clinical and anatomic pathologist (Leningrad-St. Petersburg), a pathologists’ assistant (including morgue attendant) and grossing technologist (Chicago).

As an epidemiologist, I was obliged to manage all ranges of actions during local epidemics including dysentery, hepatitis, and some sporadic cases of anthrax, tularemia, and others. While working in anatomic pathology, I tried to follow the safety rules, although I managed to accidentally stick my finger during an autopsy of a deceased acute HIV patient. The variability of conditions in individuals’ lives and work across different countries are incomparable. Every experience is limited and personal biases are inevitable, but the common denominator remains to be the rationality of actions under current circumstances.A different perspective might be useful for current COVID-19 and epidemics in the future.

This blog is focusing on “hot” topics. Three buzz words are dominating during current COVID-19 epidemic: hand washing, mask, social distancing with testing inside this triangle.

Hand washing, as a variant of disinfection, is self-explanatory action rooted in history of fighting epidemics. A mask is a natural instinct of locking the door before an intruder breaks in. Social distancing is a relatively new notion. Separation between potentially ill people at the voluntary chosen distance of 6 feet is relatively benign and acceptable by the frightened society. Are not self-destructive for humans prolonged social quarantines of healthy millions who want to work, go for shoping, come together for sport, entertainment, political, religious and other events?

The blog is going to address these issues in detail. They are not challenged in public and even science discourse. Surprisingly, the world entered the pandemic without reliable scientific data regarding these basic premises. We are entering our more than half a year of dealing with SARS-CoV-2 virus and we are still speculating over critical issues like virus transmission through aerolization.

Please, come back to the Blog’s COVID-19 categories. I’m often placing new and periodically updating some previous posts.

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