Hi friends. Wow. How are you? I took over a week off of blogging to, much like most of the rest of the world, adjust to my new normal due to the novel coronavirus. If you’re anything like me, you might be finding it hard to focus on tasks like work and schoolwork, as the news is all-engrossing, ever-changing, and at times, very overwhelming. I plan to go back to posting content about non-coronavirus things soon, but before I do, I thought I would make a handy reference list of some common public health definitions to help you understand COVID-19 news.
These phrases are all over that the news these days, so I hope this post helps you understand what they mean, so that you can perhaps better comprehend what’s going on in the world right now.
I’m not an infectious disease epidemiologist or doctor, but I was introduced to many of these phrases during my MPH. Yay for public health.
Read on for some public health definitions for COVID-19 (and public health in general) that are being used by public health experts and journalists to discuss updates of the novel coronavirus.
Also, I didn’t really add photos to this piece. Usually, I add a lot of photos. But I didn’t have any original photos that I felt really made sense here, so I stuck to infographics I made, instead. Feel free to scroll through them!
Epidemiology is a data-driven, systematic scientific discipline. It is the study of distribution (frequency, patterns) and determinants (causes, and risk factors) in specific populations (communities, or individuals viewed collectively) and the application of this study to control health problems. It deals with collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data on health and disease. It is sometimes described as the ‘basic science’ of public health.
An epidemic refers to a condition that affects a large proportion of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time. An example would be the Zika virus.
A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease that impacts an exceptionally high proportion of the population.
The phrase ‘endemic’ refers to the baseline level of a disease in a population. It is not necessarily the desired level of the disease in a population (which may be zero), but rather, the baseline or actual amount.
A disease is considered to be endemic when it is maintained at a baseline level in in geographic area. Influenza is considered endemic, as it is predictable to reoccur every year. Some have expressed concern that COVID-19 may become endemic, meaning it comes back repeatedly over time.
A hyperendemic is persistent, high levels of disease.
An influenza pandemic occurs when a new virus emerges and spreads around the world. Most people do not have immunity to pandemics, which is part of why they are able to spread so much.
Immunity refers to the development of a state of resistance against an infectious agent. Right now, because COVID-19 has never before been transferred to humans, no one had immunity to the disease, which is part of why it is spreading so quickly.
Typically, people develop immunity to a disease via a vaccine or by contracting the disease and developing antibodies (or your body’s defense system) against it. Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. Post-infection immunity to COVID-19 is not completely defined; however, it seems as though most similar viruses lead to post-infection immunity.…