About two weeks ago, on Monday, January 30, I tested positive for Covid. A few days later I blogged about this on my HinesSight blog in I test positive for Covid. And feel positive about Paxlovid.
Well, it was a good run without ever getting Covid -- about three years since the nasty virus came to the United States in early 2020.
After I had trouble sleeping last Saturday night, feeling on edge for no discernible reason, I took a rapid Covid test Sunday morning, which came back negative, even though my voice was a bit hoarse.
But Monday morning I had some nasal congestion and increased hoarseness, so I tested again. Yikes! A positive result.
By Monday afternoon, thanks to quick work by my doctor's office and a Salem Health pharmacist, I'd started taking Paxlovid, a 5-day treatment that basically puts the brake on Covid replication to give your body a chance to fight it before the virus gets up a head of steam.
When the five days came to an end on Saturday morning, I wrote another blog post: My somewhat contrarian take on Paxlovid "rebound."
After getting some Covid symptoms and testing positive on a rapid test last Monday, this morning I completed the 5-day Paxlovid treatment regimen.
My symptoms (nasal congestion and a cough) have been gone for a few days. The rapid test I took this afternoon was negative. So things are looking good.
And I'm not all that worried about Paxlovid rebound, which doesn't seem like a big deal to me.
Paxlovid rebound happens when someone tests negative after completing the course of treatment, then a few days later, either tests positive for Covid again or has a recurrence of symptoms. I got a chance to confirm my "no big deal" attitude when, last Wednesday, February 8, a rapid Covid test came back positive, which it also did the next three days, including today.
Yesterday I wrote: I get Paxlovid "rebound," but I'm OK with being Covid positive again.
I still feel it isn't a big deal, even though last Wednesday, four days after I finished the Paxlovid treatment, I was dismayed to find that a rapid test I took showed I was positive for Covid again. So far (this is Friday) I'm still testing positive.
That's irritating, since I enjoyed my few days of post-Covid normalcy -- having coffee with a friend, going back to exercising at my athletic club, attending my Tai Chi class.
On the plus side, my symptoms are milder than before, and they were pretty mild the first Covid time around. I haven't had to take a decongestant at bedtime, which I did during the first bout of Covid. And I came across a recent Scientific American story about Paxlovid rebound which indicates that my "contrarian take" on this actually is scientifically mainstream.
Meaning, whether or not someone has a Covid treatment, the virus can wax and wane in the body.
So it's important to recognize that Paxlovid rebound doesn't mean you've got a fresh case of Covid. It just means that some pockets of the virus remained after the 5-day course of treatment, popping up when the Paxlovid brake was released.
I've shared these details about my Covid experience as background for the title of this post. Science became my best friend after getting the initial positive test result. Of course, for my whole life I've felt close to science. But this health challenge has helped me realize even more strongly how important it is to cling to scientific facts.
Those facts, of course, continually change.
Science skeptics see scientists changing their minds and wrongly think that this shows that the scientific method is flawed. Actually, the opposite is true. Science, unlike religion, is happy to be proven wrong, because that allows for a more accurate picture of reality to emerge.
When I got the rebound positive test last Wednesday, one of the first things I did was Google what you're supposed to do after testing positive again following a negative test when the Paxlovid course of treatment was over.
The recommendation was to isolate for five days, as if you were getting Covid for the first time. I recall that in the early days of Covid in the United States, the isolation period was ten days. But that was then, and this is now.
So my five day isolation period ends tomorrow. Then I'm going to start returning to public places with a mask on for another five days. This makes sense to me. I liked what a doctor had to say in an article about Paxlovid rebound.
People who experience rebound still tend to have positive outcomes. Paxlovid is meant to help prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death — and it continues to do so, even if rebound cases occur.
“From the data so far, Paxlovid rebound has not been dangerous,” says Dr. Klausner. “There are no reported, verified cases of hospitalization or death from rebound. Typically, people have a mild recurrence of symptoms or positive test results for a few days and then get better.”
Of course, since you are still infectious during this period, it’s important to isolate.
“The CDC advises five days of isolation from the onset of symptoms and an additional five days of mask use,” says Dr. Klausner. “While some experts advise continuing isolation until a rapid test is negative and remains negative, that is not practical for most people. The five-day rule is a good compromise balancing individual needs and public health risks.”
Note Klausner's words in the last paragraph: "While some experts advise," "Not practical for most people," "A good compromise."
Scientific research, especially in areas like medicine and public health, often isn't cut-and-dried, a matter of simply looking up the facts about something. Judgement is necessary.
I read numerous articles about what to do after Paxlovid rebound before concluding that a five-day isolation following by a five-day period of mask wearing when in a public space seems to be the way for me to go. It also essentially is the CDC guideline.
I could be wrong. But I'm much more likely to be right after reading reputable information from reliable sources than I would be if I just intuitively decided what to do.
Some people who qualify for Paxlovid don't get this treatment because they haven't understood the real meaning of "rebound." Sadly, some doctors won't prescribe Paxlovid for the same reason. Science takes work. It requires effort, whether one is a producer of scientific research or a consumer of that research.
Science also can be confusing. But there's no doubt that science is humanity's best approach to understanding reality. As I said, the fact that science evolves, that scientific facts are constantly changing, is the key to its success.
Sure, medical doctors and public health personnel have gotten things wrong about Covid. However, they've gotten hugely more right than wrong, especially when compared to the conspiracy theories about Covid that have caused untold deaths and suffering.
Vaccines work. Paxlovid works. Don't believe those who say otherwise. I'm much rather put my faith in science, even though it isn't perfect, than in religious belief or wacko conspiracy theories that have no grounding at all in reality.