It was an honor and privilege to be among the speakers at Texas A&M’s Student Conference on National Affairs (SCONA) February 11-12, 2021 discussing “Leadership On the Front Lines.” Among the Speakers were General James McConville, 40th Chief of Staff of the US Army, and General Mark Welsh III, Dean of the George HW Bush School of Government and Public Service after serving as Chief of the Air Force in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Time to Reflect: Last 18 Months with COVID-19
Much like the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, world-wide travel enabled the COVID-19 pandemic. Although travel was fairly comparable, the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak was extremely limited compared to the global experience with COVID-19. Eliminated by 2004, the global experience with SARS resulted in 8,098 sick and 774 deaths; there were only 8 cases in the United States.
The medical community, however, quickly sensed the difference between COVID-19 and SARS. In December 2019, mobilization included the publishing community with open access for any COVID-19 related publications.
Although no COVID-19 cases had been reported in Texas during the week ending 18 January 2020, 1,408 cases of a “flu-like illness” had been reported to the Department of State Health Services. As one of the most populous and internationally diverse states where many military installations are located, the potential impact of COVID-19 on Texas was of significant concern. On 28 January 2020, the Texas Medical Association newsletter headline was, “Coronavirus Fears Overshadowing Influenza Threat”. By 7 February 2020, healthcare professionals were told, “Be prepared for a sudden and significant increase in demand.”
Timeline and Impact
After March 2020, the hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 became staggering. Eventually, about 10% of the entire US population contracted COVID-19, with a mortality rate of approximately 2% of those infected. No one knows the impact of Long COVID on the healthcare system or a significant number of healthcare professionals who contracted the disease.
Healthcare workers represented approximately 6% of those who contracted COVID-19. Despite being younger, with a mean age of 49 years, mortality rates were similar to older patients:
- 16% were placed on a ventilator
- Death rate for healthcare workers was double that for the general population: Over 4% of healthcare workers who contracted COVID-19
Women in Healthcare
Since 2000, the number of full-time healthcare workers has more than doubled, and women hold 76% of all healthcare jobs. Half of all healthcare workers hold a college degree and 25% have advanced degrees. Over 90% of nurses, midwives, pharmacists, dental and medical assistants are women.
Women in healthcare were on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and placed themselves at risk to fulfill their professional obligation.
The short- and long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are now just being assessed. The death and devastation due to the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on population health, and healthcare workers is already profound. Future challenges include making up for delays in routine care, recognizing Long COVID sequelae and recruitment of individuals into high-risk professions, including healthcare.
Moving forward, assessing results will be important but traditional types of data may not be responsive enough. The art of medicine is about being able to use clinical judgment for recommended therapy. Yet, with clinical studies how will we assess what is happening in real-time? We will not have the time nor the patient numbers to power the statistical analyses required in traditional studies.
However, we can assess outcomes of treatment and be more responsive with all-payer medical and pharmacy claims data. At STATinMED Research, we use robust claims data that is refreshed monthly to assess current and relevant results. When healthcare professionals have current results available to them, they can assess therapy and adjust what is best for their patients.
As real-world evidence authorities, STATinMED Research discovers data, develops insights and delivers optimal solutions to help life science companies realize maximum value.
Many thanks again to you and the entire STATinMED Research team for your help with the cohort comparison and timeline. It means a lot to us.
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