As we celebrate Easter, we are forced to adjust our plans and are missing the traditions and togetherness we’ve shared in the past.
Like many others, we feel a sense of gratitude for the little moments, many of which we have taken for granted up to now.
Personally, Andrea and I are taking things one day at a time, focusing on quality time with our family and communicating with our loved ones. Puzzles, board games, exercise, walks, Zoom and Netflix have been our remedy so far.
For today’s update, I’d like to take a step back and focus on those feelings of gratefulness, the global progress to date and provide perspective on how far we’ve come.
Compare this experience to just 65 years ago as it relates to Polio and the progress is staggering. It had taken the world’s top medical minds more than two centuries to progress from recognizing a disease to testing vaccines.
Even after identifying the virus that caused polio, it took another 40 years to get vaccine trials up and running. But in 2020, the first human clinical trials for vaccines against the virus are already underway just 3 months after the first people were infected. 65 years ago, the polio vaccine took about a decade to produce, from the start of dedicated research to a public vaccination campaign.
Today, public health authorities worldwide estimate that a safe, effective, publicly available novel coronavirus vaccine could be only months away – less than a year after doctors saw the first cases of the disease.
This weekend marks just over 100 days since the World Health Organization (WHO) was first notified about a cluster of unidentified and unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China.
In the short time since then, the world has changed dramatically. Essentially 13 weeks ago we had no concept of what COVID-19 even was. And to think of what collaboratively, internationally, globally has happened in terms of the generation of new knowledge, it's absolutely astounding.
Organizations like WHO, governments, academia, the private sector and more have worked together and helped fast-track processes to address the issues the Coronavirus created. For example, the Mayo Clinic was recently named the national coordinating center for plasma-derived therapies and is doing this at the direction of the Food and Drug Administration in a national collaboration involving Johns Hopkins University and other institutions.
Currently, groups around the globe are involved in vaccine development as there are as many as 60 vaccine candidates currently in some form of development.
So what can we do right now? Below are 10 recommendations by Dr. Gregory Polland, an infectious disease expert and director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group upon which he feels, collectively, there's good evidence to support their value. We agree and hope you find them helpful.
Fast from the media.
It's not good, and data would suggest, to sit in front of the TV all day. We're at home. We're teleworking. We're going to school from a distance. Pay attention to the news, maybe 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening, but then do something else.
The tendency is going to be to reach for snack foods ― to reach for easy, quick, processed foods. So, this is an opportunity to take time to practice healthy eating habits.
Don't forget about sleep. This is a stressful time for people, and eating right, sleeping, and the next one ― exercise ― are known to improve your immune system. You want to stay as healthy as you can.
Regular aerobic exercise is important to a healthy body, immune system, and attitude.
Connect with others.
We are social creatures. We are meant to be in community with one another. That may have to be using technology as we're doing. It might be a phone call. It might be a Zoom or Facebook. But try to connect with people in a meaningful way.
Be grateful and think positively.
It's easy to say. It's a little harder to practice. And that is, even amid this trial, gratitude and positive thinking go a long way. Keep a gratitude journal and a healthy perspective.
Whatever your spiritual beliefs, faith turns out to be a big driver of well-being when people are stressed and fearful in uncertain conditions. Believing in something bigger than yourself is important to well-being.
Establish a routine.
Routines are very important in human behavior. Have routines and build fun into them.
Helping others is a very positive step for all involved. Maybe you can help an elderly neighbor by getting groceries if you go shopping to keep them away from potential exposure.
Learn something new.
Attempt to learn something new. There's a lot of people stuck at home. This would be a great time, particularly as a family to say: "Let's learn something important together. Let's learn something that we'll use the rest of our lives." Don't waste the gift of time.
As Queen Elizabeth eloquently said this weekend “We know that coronavirus will not overcome us. As dark as death can be - particularly for those suffering with grief - light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”