An invisible patient: the third wave of COVID-19 – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology
This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Ms. Nadua Apostólico and Ms. Marina Catharino Rodrigues, two medical students at Universidade Nove de Julho, Brazil. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), a cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article are the sole property of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor of The European Sting.
The disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, popularized as COVID 19, has disrupted health systems around the world, causing a global socio-economic crisis, affecting all aspects of human life. Margaret Harris, spokesperson for the World Health Organization, when asked about the re-acceleration of the pandemic in places where the contagion curve was declining, on July 28, 2020, answered categorically “for the moment – first, second , third wave – these things don’t really make sense and we don’t really define them that way.
It is believed that we are now on the verge of experiencing a third wave. According to the World Economic Forum, we can probably attribute this consequence to a reduction in care for other health problems. Due to the stress that the current pandemic is causing on the health system, important treatments and activities in primary health care, outpatient and inpatient care have been interrupted or paralyzed to the detriment of the intensification of interventions related to COVID-19. This third wave has been described by academics as an “invisible patient”, meaning that due to the focus entirely on patients infected with the virus, individuals who have not been affected by the virus. disease, but which have other comorbidities or chronic diseases, have become invisible to the health system.
Brazilian government regulations were established at the onset of the pandemic, requiring people to stay at home and only seek health services if they had respiratory distress or other respiratory symptoms. As a result, many people have stopped seeking health units for different treatments and elective procedures have been suspended, leaving hospital beds available to receive patients severely affected by the virus. The same can be seen with service providers, resources and healthcare professionals who have turned their attention to infected patients and diverted from those with non-Covid-related illnesses. In this way, part of the population became invisible to the health system and, although they were not infected with the virus, they ended up being affected by the pandemic.
Such evidence is seen as a secondary consequence of COVID-19, causing an increase in the severity of cases of patients with pre-existing conditions who have been infected with the virus and may have suffered a worsening of chronic disease and, thus , potential morbidity and mortality. In addition, due to the current pandemic scenario in the country, the relaxation of health restrictions, the difficulty of mass vaccination and the spread of fake news on the treatment of COVID-19 does not allow us to have an optimistic view.
It is necessary to intensify government actions aimed at strengthening the health system to improve these conditions. Actions should be taken to provide intensive care beds, expand hospital structures mainly in non-urban areas, administer rapid vaccination coverage, and cover as many people as possible and thus aim to limit the spread of the pandemic and seek to reverse epidemiological growth, and thus reduce the number of cases.
About the Authors
Nadua Apostólico, 30, medical student at Universidade Nove de Julho (2020-2025), local coordinator – IFMSA BRAZIL UNINOVE. Full member of the Critical Care Medicine Academic League and the Cardiovascular Surgery League at UNINOVE. She is a member of the European Respiratory Society (Silver member).
Marina Catharino Rodrigues, 21, medical student at the Universidade Nove de Julho (2020-2025), Local Coordinator – IFMSA BRAZIL UNINOVE, Local Secretary – IFMSA BRAZIL UNINOVE, member of the secretariat department of AAACTI (Associação Atlética Acadêmica César Timo-Iaria). Member of the League of Dermatology at UNINOVE.