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How to Cope with COVID-19 Survivor’s Guilt

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How to Cope with COVID-19 Survivor’s Guilt

Recovering from COVID-19 can lead to complex feelings of grief, better known as survivor’s guilt.

And experts are saying this is a growing issue as the pandemic hits its 1-year mark in the United States.

“Survivor’s guilt occurs when an individual survives a harrowing or traumatic experience, but concludes that they were somehow undeserving of survival or that someone else would have been more deserving,” Arianna Galligher, LISW-S, associate director of STAR Trauma Recovery Center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Healthline.

Prior to the pandemic, survivor’s guilt was associated with people who have survived life threatening situations such as war, the Holocaust, the September 11th terrorist attacks, and organ transplants.

  • Experts say survivor’s guilt is becoming an issue for people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • They say the most vulnerable people are those who know someone who has died from the disease or had a serious illness from it.
  • They say symptoms of survivor’s guilt include obsessive thoughts, sleep difficulties, and a loss of motivation.
  • Among the ways to cope with this guilt are socializing, expressing gratitude, and helping others.

The condition is common in groups such as veterans and first responders.

However, experts say the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is showing us that this common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doesn’t discriminate.

“It can be really challenging to have a positive or better outcome post-trauma when you know that others have not been afforded a similar opportunity,” Akua K. Boateng, PhD, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist, told Healthline.

Who is at risk?

Experts say no one is immune to COVID-19 survivor’s guilt because we’re all experiencing collective trauma.

However, people who have developed the illness and recovered are more susceptible.

“Survivor’s guilt tells you that you have done something wrong for merely surviving something tragic,” said Boateng.

“Since the symptoms and long-term effects of COVID-19 vary widely from person to person, it can lead some who contracted the illness and recovered to wonder, ‘Why did I make it when others didn’t?’” said Galligher.

She says the following situations further increase the likelihood of experiencing survivor’s guilt:

  • knowing someone who lost their life to COVID-19
  • knowing someone who has experienced more severe long-term consequences from COVID-related complications
  • believing you put yourself in a risky situation that led to contracting the virus
  • having pre-existing mental health conditions that affect your ability to cope with grief related to survival

Boateng adds that people can experience complex grief related to COVID-19, even if they haven’t developed and recovered from the illness.

“A similar phenomenon of survivor’s guilt could be manifesting for those that have experienced more ideal outcomes during the pandemic,” said Boateng.

“The more ideal outcome could be less loss, better economic status, and now even having access to the vaccine, where others are still looking for this access,” she added.

Signs and symptoms

Psychiatric effects such as depression, anxiety, and mood changes are long-term effects of recovering from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.

However, Boateng adds that feeling remorse or regret can also occur along with anger.

“Anger that has been internalized because you’ve had more mobility, economic support, access, and decreased loss in total,” she said.

While it’s expected to feel a range of emotions when surviving an ongoing pandemic, there are signs and symptoms to watch for to prevent further psychiatric distress and longer-term mental health issues related to survivor’s guilt.

Galligher says the following are signs and symptoms of COVID-19 survivor’s guilt:

  • obsessive thoughts related to the course of illness and recovery
  • obsessive thoughts related to someone else’s inability to recover
  • irritability and anger
  • feelings of helplessness
  • feelings of grief and sadness
  • problems sleeping
  • decreased motivation
  • social withdrawal or isolation
  • experiencing the impulse to overcompensate in an effort to prove oneself more “deserving of survival”
  • thoughts of suicide

These thoughts, feelings, and behavior changes can be debilitating and disabling. Talk with your doctor as soon as possible to discuss available options.

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can connect with a network of more than 150 crisis centers offering free and confidential emotional support around the clock at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

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President Tests Positive After Taking COVID-19 Jab

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President Has Tested Positive After Taking COVID-19 Jab.

healthforcast reports that the president of Argentina Alberto Fernandez who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, on Friday announced that he has tested positive for the virus.

Alberto Fernandez
Alberto Fernandez

“At the end of today, after presenting a fever of 37.3 and a slight headache, I performed an antigen test, which was positive,” he tweeted, adding he was waiting for the results of a PCR test to confirm the diagnosis.

Fernandez, who marked his 62 birthday on Friday was in isolation as a precaution but said he was “physically well.”

“Although I would have liked to end my birthday without this news, I am also in good spirits,” he said.

The Argentina President was vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and had his second shot on February 11, sources in the presidency told AFP.

 Argentina is facing a second wave of coronavirus with a sustained rise in cases.

The South American country of 44 million inhabitants has recorded more than 2.3 million infections and over 55,000 deaths from Covid-19.

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SURVEY!!! Over 50% of Nigerians Set To Take Covid-19 Vaccine

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SURVEY!!! Over 50% of Nigerians Set To Take Covid-19 Vaccine

As against earlier studies which showed that up to 75% of Nigerians are ready to be vaccinated, The National Primary Health Care Development Agency has announced that over 50% of Nigerians have admitted that they will take the Covid-19 vaccines.

This was disclosed by NPHCDA CEO, Dr. Faisal Shuaib in an interview with Channels TV on Monday night.

“We cannot take any individual for granted. I am also aware from my experiences in the polio vaccination drive that Nigerians are logical people,” he said.

He added that there has been a recorded shift from 75% who said they won’t take the vaccines to over 50% of Nigerians who admit they will take it and also urged that it’s important to provide more information to those not sure.

“We have seen a gradual shift from a situation where up to 75% of Nigerians said they will not take the vaccines

“We are now beginning to see over 50% of Nigerians say they will take the vaccines and the remaining 50% are cut between 25% who say they won’t take it and 25% that are not so sure.

“It’s is important we reach a critical number of Nigerians to achieve herd immunity, if we don’t achieve that, we are going to be here for a very long time,” Shuaib said.

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Five More Countries Suspend AstraZeneca Vaccination Exercise

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Five More Countries Suspend AstraZeneca Vaccination Exercise

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has said it is aware of the increasing concerns about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, noting that Nigeria has suffered a major setback in the campaign to make citizens and residents take the jabs.

The Genius Media Nigeria gathered that the PTF also decried that some prominent Nigerians had been using the cases of side effects, especially in Europe to discourage their followers from accepting the vaccine.

The National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Sani Aliyu, who was represented by the National Incident Manager, Dr. Muktar Muhammad, made this known at the press conference of the task force on Monday.

Muhammad stated this as five more countries halted the administration of the vaccine because of the fear of the possible deadly side effects.

Recall that The Federal Government had on Thursday said Nigeria would continue to administer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine despite its suspension by eight European countries.

On Thursday, eight  European countries – Denmark, Norway, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, and Luxembourg –  suspended all or part of its roll-out as a precaution while they investigated concerns relating to blood clots and other side effects caused by the vaccine.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora; and a prominent virologist, Prof Oyewale Tomori, had separately told The PUNCH that there was nothing to worry about.

 

The Federal Government two weeks ago received 3.94 million doses of the vaccine from the COVAX facility, an initiative co-led by the Vaccine Alliance, GAVI, and the World Health Organisation.

Despite the assurance by the government on Thursday, the National Incident Manager, Muhammad, on Monday,  said, “We have suffered a major setback in the last few hours regarding the taunted safety and efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. We have seen in the news how some countries have deferred the usage of this vaccine or have suspended its use. The list of the European countries is growing.

“However, it is very reassuring to see that the regulatory agencies in those countries have continued to emphasize that the vaccine is safe and that the incidents of blood clotting reported in the patients are not higher than the risk of blood clotting in people who are not vaccinated. So, it is something really reassuring.

“It is also heart-warming to see that the WHO has again issued statements – over the last few days, the WHO has been bringing out statements regarding the safety and efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. It is therefore important that we take this information seriously and that we use it as a guide towards the implementation of our programs.”

The Incident Manager noted that Nigeria’s health sector, especially the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control and National Health Care Development Agency, was “working not only to reassure Nigerians but also to make a determination to continue to get information regarding any side effects that people are experiencing in this country.”

He added, “So, with this, I will say that the available information from the clinical trials has shown that the vaccine is generally safe and efficacious, and that it has an efficacy of about 70 percent. The side effects are usually mild, which include fever, cough and cold. Any symptoms that have persisted more than 24 hours should be reported through the right channel at the state level, through the PHCDA and the state case managers.”

The PTF warned Nigerians against capitalizing on the arrival of the vaccine in the country to flout the laid-down COVID-19 protocols, which include the use of face masks, observance of physical distancing at public events.

The task force also urged state governments to intensify efforts at enforcement of health regulations signed by the President “until we reach a certain point where we are comfortable with the level of immunity in the country.”

Muhammad said, “It is sad to note that some people of very high positions, particularly some political and religious leaders, have used this opportunity to provide misinformation to the public regarding the response and the efficacy of the vaccine.

“We urge them to please contact the relevant experts in the field before they make these pronouncements. Any pronouncement by a responsible political or religious leader to a gathering should be based on science and facts, and not just what they feel at that moment.”

Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Holland pause AstraZeneca vaccine rollout

As   the PTF advised Nigerians,  Spain, Germany, France, Holand and Italy on Monday were the latest European countries to temporarily suspend the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

According to CNN, the countries suspended the rollout of the vaccine over a small number of blood clot concerns, going against the advice of international medical agencies as a third wave of infections looms over the continent.

Spain’s health minister, Carolina Darias, announced in a nationally televised news conference Monday that the country would stop using the vaccine for two weeks.

She said, “It is a temporary and precautionary suspension until the risks can be evaluated by the European Medicines Agency.”

Similarly, German health minister, Jens Spahn, on Monday said the country would pause inoculations as a precaution, following reports of a handful of cases of blood clots in people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot in Denmark and Norway.

France and Italy also halted their rollouts of the vaccine on Monday, pending review by the EU’s medicines regulator, the European Medicines Agency.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, said, “We have decided to suspend the use of AstraZeneca as a precautionary measure and are hoping to resume it quickly if the EMA’s advice allows it.”

The Dutch government said its suspension, which will last until at least 29 March, was a precaution.

Also on Monday, the Federal Government cautioned Nigerians to be wary of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as being experienced in some countries.

The government also told Nigerians to be careful of home-based care as there might not be enough facilities and personnel to manage patients in times of emergencies.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, stated these during a press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

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He stated, “As of March 14 2021, our bed occupancy had reduced to 1.22 percent and active cases stand at 13,245. Unfortunately, Nigeria crossed 2,000 fatalities on March 12, 2021, and we have now recorded 2,013 deaths.

“The PTF will like to caution Nigerians on home-based care as there may not be enough facilities and personnel to manage patients in times of emergencies.

“It is in this vein that concerted efforts have been made to ensure that oxygen is available for patients in all the 46 facilities.”

He acknowledged reports from all over the world in the last few days focusing on the safety and side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine being currently rolled out in Nigeria.

The SGF, however, said that the Nigerian authorities had tested and authorized the use of the vaccine because it was safe and efficacious.

The SGF said discussions with the KLM and Emirate Airlines were still ongoing on the issue of pre-boarding testing for passengers, whose final destinations of travel were their home bases.

According to him, KLM resumed outbound flights from Lagos on March 15, 2021, without RDTs, while a letter has been written to Emirates Airlines to suspend flights with effect from the midnight of Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

Mustapha said the arrival of the vaccine had not in any way distracted the government from pursuing the national response to COVID-19 as originally conceptualized, as well as testing, detection, tracing, isolation and treatment.

He stated, “For the avoidance of doubt, the virus is very potent and people still get infected. It is also a fact that the vaccination process has only just begun. It has been reported that some countries are recording a third wave of cases.

“We urge all Nigerians to recognize that we are not yet out of the woods. Therefore, the PTF shall continue to emphasis and promote strict adherence to the NPIs.”

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