The most affected by Covid are the elderly for whom Christmas is a very important moment. How to meet them safely? Do you need to take a test? Which?
In many civilizations the elders – considered wise – were advisers, judges, legislators. In ancient Rome they were members of the senate, a word that comes from "senex" which in Latin means precisely elderly. Today the elderly no longer have the authority they once had, even if their specific weight has increased enormously.
In Italy the over 65s are 14 million, 23% of the population. In fact, we are fortunate to be one of the longest-lived countries in the world with a life expectancy of 85.3 years for women and 81 years for men.
Covid hit them like a hurricane. In Italy as of 25 November, out of 49,931 people who died from Covid, 42,657 were over 70 years old (85%). And if we add the 4,956 deaths between the ages of 60 and 69, we come to 95% of all deaths from Coronavirus (here the data in detail).
Caring for the elderly
In Italy, the care of the elderly is mostly entrusted to the family (especially women). Unlike in northern European countries, the elderly often live with their children and grandchildren, and this would seem to be one of the reasons why we have such a high mortality rate. The elderly are more fragile but not only physically. To feel good they need company and closeness, listening and contact. The lockdown is even more painful for them, especially when they have to give up the ritual moments of meeting: birthdays, anniversaries and great traditional celebrations such as Christmas.
On the other hand, the possibility of being infected without knowing it and of infecting our loved ones is high. And there is no affection or kinship that holds in front of this simple and cruel truth. So, how to stay close to the elderly without putting them in danger? Do you need to take a test before meeting them? "
A Covid test for Christmas
Taking a Covid test is useful for knowing your health condition. We can in fact know if we are infected, if we are not or if we have had Covid without knowing it. Each test has a different purpose and is done at a certain time (to find out more, read the article Do you test me? But how much do you test me?).
To find out if you are contagious, you need to do the molecular test (swab) or the rapid antigen test. To be sure, however, one must not have had any risky contact in the previous 2-3 days. In fact, the tests detect the virus only 48-72 hours after any infection.
But if we have never had symptoms, or we have a doubt, it can be useful to know if we have come into contact with the virus, because if it has happened we have developed antibodies and therefore we are immune for a certain period.
For this there is the serological test that detects which and how many antibodies we have developed and tells us if we have had Covid recently or months ago (to learn more, read the article Che mal di test!).
Find out if you are immune
The antibodies protect us from a new encounter with the virus and diminish our ability to infect other people. Unfortunately it is not known for how long: some studies speak of months, others of years.
Giuseppe Ippolito, scientific director of the Spallanzani Institute and infectious disease specialist of the Scientific Technical Committee, said: "Those who have already had Covid should not be vaccinated because they have natural antibodies. If anything, the level of antibodies will have to be checked and when these fall, a vaccination can be considered ”.
There is also talk of half vaccine. In fact, there are those who believe that, if the vaccine is in two phases, those who already have the antibodies will only be able to make one dose.
Serological tests will therefore also be needed when the vaccine is in place.
In short, the Covid tests help us to face the upcoming holidays and the meeting with our loved ones with more serenity. They are an attention, almost a Christmas gift for ourselves and for others.
Don't let your guard down
Even if we are not contagious, we can carry the virus with us and therefore, especially with the elderly, we must continue to respect and enforce the rules we know well by now: mask, cleanliness, no kisses and hugs, distance and a few at a time.
Let us remember that the most dangerous moment is when you eat, because you lower the mask and stay still and close for a long time. For this reason, it would be good not to let grandparents and grandchildren meet for lunch and dinner, but preferably outside and in the open air. And, if it is absolutely essential to stay at home, you must keep the mask and air the room often.
But this year is also an opportunity to invent a different Christmas, multiplied in many small meetings and expanded over time, with fewer dinners, but with more chat, music, games, gifts.
The virus has certainly not affected our creativity and this will allow us to be close to our loved ones with all the necessary precautions to defend them, but also with all the affection they deserve.
With the non-conditioning contribution of Abbott.