Dr. Rajeev Fernando is one of New York's top infectious disease specialists, and with the cold and flu season coming soon, he shares his professional opinion on a COVID-19 second wave, and the psychological impact the virus is having.

When you need to know what's happening with the coronavirus, join KICKS 105.5 every Thursday morning. Dr. Rajeev Fernando answers your COVID-19 questions.

Before we get to our listener questions, I heard this week that scientists in Pittsburgh have isolated a biological molecule that completely neutralizes the coronavirus, what can you tell us about this? 

"I think that's very preliminary information, there are some studies, but not power driven, there's just not that much information about it. I have to wait till it's peer reviewed, and look into it myself, so I wouldn't get to excited about it just yet, it has to be studied a little more".

Laurie in New Fairfield heard Dr. Fauci's report about hunkering down as we approach the fall and winter cold and flu season. She would like to know, in your professional opinion, how bad do you think this virus could get?

"I think this is going to go on for awhile, the winter is coming up and we have to be concerned with a coexisting influenza virus as well. My personal feel is that I think there will be less flu cases this year because of the social distancing mechanisms we're using for COVID-19 is also going to decrease influenza cases, as well. The additional thing you should be doing is getting your flu vaccine, remember everyone 6 months and above should get the vaccine. Since I do see this virus going well into 2021, the situation is that America still has a baseline of 40 thousand infections, we haven't even gotten back to complete baseline. In order to have a second wave, you really have to get back to a baseline, and then you have a second wave, so right now we're sort of in a spike and plateau. If we've established 40 thousand infections every day in the United States, that's still a very high number and with those numbers heading into the winter, I'm deeply concerned".

Aside from the actual virus, the psychological effects are impacting people almost as much as the virus. As a doctor, how do you handle this aspect of the pandemic?

"I'm so glad you asked this question, it's very concerning to me. The United States is going to be facing a very very big psychiatric problem, I'm seeing much higher indications of the number of cases of depression, and suicidality, all of which will be increasing very steadily. I also work in a detox facility, and I've seen a slue of alcohol intoxication cases coming in to the hospital, and it's very hard to blame the people because these are people who are sober for years, and due to the pandemic, can't attend their AA meetings, and still have to face the kind of difficulties that we are going through. I'm seeing so much of that coming in, overdoses are higher as well, so this is something you're not hearing a lot about right now, but I really want the United States to prepare for this in the coming months. We're going to need a lot of social workers, a lot of psychologists, and we really need to be on top of this right now, because I'm certain in the next two or three months, this is going to be a big problem. I also think because the way kids are having to deal with school, and especially at home learning, this has very severe physiological consequences, so I think child psychologists will also be very much in demand."

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