It’s been three years since COVID-19 decided to rear its ugly head and have an everlasting impact on the world. For some, family members died as a result of the severity of the SARS-CoV-2 viral infection. For others, it was a true test of surviving what seemed to be un-survivable. Then there are the people that have pre-existing medical conditions making them immunocompromised and the people who became immunocompromised because of COVID. Some were lucky and didn’t get the infection or did so with little to no effect on their health.
As most of us know, various medical treatments were developed to try to combat the extremely invasive and damaging virus early on, with vaccinations becoming available in the early part of 2021. Unfortunately, not all of us could get the vaccine quickly enough. For me, that meant a severe infection thanks to the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.
The simplest way to explain is to list what happened to me and others across the United States:
- Tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus.
- Developed pneumonia due to the virus.
- Developed acute respiratory failure with hypoxia (lack of oxygen in tissue preventing proper bodily function).
- Developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
- Deconditioned physically.
- Experienced mild malnutrition
- Lungs collapsed multiple times (pneumothoraxes)
- Both lungs damaged beyond any possibility of healing, requiring a double-lung transplant to survive.
- Immunosuppressive medications now required to sustain double-lung transplant as long as possible.
Of course, there’s a lot more detail, but the point is that COVID made it necessary for the development of new and extreme methods of medical treatments and antibody inoculations aside from the vaccine after COVID initially swept across the world.
Boosters became available and were recommended as research showed the initial vaccination’s protection waned over time. For me, the boosters provided some peace of mind, as they did for more than 7 million others across the United States who have compromised immune systems. It is still best practice to wear a mask, social distance, and avoid crowded indoor areas.
Then came Evusheld, a highly effective monoclonal antibody treatment made available to immunocompromised people, providing an added level of protection against certain Omicron variants. It was wonderful having the additional level of safety; that extra bit of a preemptive strike against COVID; the feeling that I could have a somewhat “normal” life despite the virus.
Evusheld gave me a bit of confidence; the feeling that I’m not weak despite my immune system’s inability to fight off COVID because of my transplant medications. My family and I still took precautions, but Evusheld really was a blessing…until it wasn’t.
The Omicron variant mutated again. Subvariants of the virus became more prevalent, being responsible for more than 97% of the positive cases in the United States. As a result, Evusheld became less effective as a preventative measure against COVID. The new Omicron subvariants were not susceptible to Evusheld, meaning it was no longer effective protection when exposed to COVID in most cases.
As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Evusheld as a pre-exposure prevention method in the United States. Now there is no pre-exposure treatment for those who are immunocompromised.
Will there be a new pre-exposure treatment? I don’t know. I haven’t found anything to indicate there will be, but I hope someone out there is working on it. We are talking about something that would help several million people just within the United States. Now, with nothing being available for that added protection, I and many others must try to safely maneuver our way through a world that’s not meant for people with health concerns.
This means being extra cautious by wearing a mask everywhere we go and following the other safety protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even when most of the population no longer feels the need to, nor cares to, because they claim it’s a violation of their rights, or because they believe the misinformation that still causes so much confusion.
Is the entire population acting in such ways? No. There are plenty of people being respectful and understanding by still following what’s recommended when in public or in highly populated areas simply because they care about the needs of the people within their community. I do feel that care from people where I live, especially when they understand why my family and I take the precautions we do. I don’t want anybody to experience what my family did when I got sick with COVID. Perhaps, if we continue to work together and respect the needs of others, we can bring COVID to an end!
Rick Bressler is a husband, father, and Veteran of the United States Army, who wants to share his experiences as a COVID survivor to help promote getting vaccinated and boosted and wearing a mask. Currently the Lycoming County COVID-19 Community Level used to define interaction in general public spaces is medium. At this level the CDC recommends optional masking any time for extra protection.