How COVID-19 May Affect the Future

October 12, 2020

A collection of expert perspectives on what the virus itself may mean for future crises.

The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented countless clinical issues to address in the present. But as many, if not more, questions persist as to how the pandemic will influence everyone’s future.

Courtesy of sister publication HCPLive®, here is a trio of perspectives from this last on how COVID-19 will affect long-term healthcare.

Anthony Fauci, MD: What Happens After the Pandemic?

The celebrated long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and public health leader discussed with HCPLive the need for timely and comprehensive response to the virus itself in order to assure it does not become a staple of annual or seasonal burden on the US.

“I think it’s so easily transmissible, that I don’t think it’s going to disappear like SARS,” he said. “Whether it becomes seasonal in the sense of returning and being around chronically is going to depend completely on the level of efficacy of the virus, and how many people get vaccinated.”

Fauci expressed doubts COVID-19 can be wholly eradicated, suggesting instead it could exist as any risk of a common cold virus would—only with greater and more unknown risks in those affected.

Pediatric Mental Health, Treatment, and COVID-19

Benjamin Zablotsky, PhD, a Health Statistician with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told HCPLive there is a growing need for an updated, nationally representative dataset of pediatric and adolescent psychiatric care during the pandemic.

“Once that data is available, it would be curious to see if in fact there were children in need of services who couldn’t get them due to COVID,” he said.

The matter of telepsychiatry’s use among younger patients—both in prevalence and in care outcomes—remains a raised topic of interest among experts, as COVID-19 has both driven worsened mental health among populations and restricted the means by which individuals can seek care.

Findings may indicate telemedicine is an adopted passageway by younger psychiatry patients going forward.

Paul Christo, MD: Addressing Opioid Addiction during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care joined HCPLive to discuss the effect a traumatic, lasting experience like this pandemic may have on the rate of new opioid additions.

Adversely, therapies including methadone and buprenorphine have become easier to access and acquire through remote treatment. These medications remain critical to maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse among affected patients.

Another important medication is naloxone (Narcan), which is an opioid-reversal agent. And yet, there is little visibility of it across the population. According to Christo, there is certainly potential to improve communication related to the importance of the drug for individuals who overuse opioids.

“I think there’s hope, because of what we’ve learned from the initial stages of COVID-19, when everything was closed,” he said.