Two Epidemics


Anchor lead: Experts in drug addiction are sounding an alarm about vulnerabilities in this population in the setting of the pandemic, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Almost 70,000 people died in 2018 in the United States due to drug overdoses, a number that is eclipsed by Covid-19 deaths so far in 2020. Yet many drug abuse experts, including Eric Strain at Johns Hopkins, warn that in some ways there are parallel epidemics taking place.

Strain: The drug abuse population in general is going to be a vulnerable if they do get infected. This is a population that often has other medical comorbidities, second thing is the treatment systems are not ideally suited for this situation. We have opioid treatment programs or methadone clinics which have traditionally congregated this population often waiting in line to get medicine and bringing them into close quarters with each other, which is really a risky situation for transmission of the virus.  :33

Strain says it’s not known yet how many overdose deaths have occurred during the pandemic, but says ED visits are down quite a lot. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.