Publication date: Jun 07, 2020
Covid-19 has now been afflicting humans for six months – first in China and later in other nations as the virus embarked on its global conquest.
Yet we have only reached the halfway point of the disease’s progress towards its first anniversary, timing that raises a host of concerns and questions about our ability to navigate our way through this pandemic.
What exactly have we learned about Covid-19 over the past six months?
-This disease has turned out to be much worse than any of the pandemics that we had been anticipating and making plans to counter,” said Martin Hibberd, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
This point was also stressed by David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College London, and an envoy for the World Health Organization on Covid-19.
Nor is it likely to disappear in the near future, added Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Edinburgh University.
In such circumstances, lockdown – which Woolhouse described as -a panic measure” but a necessary one – is no longer sustainable and the problem we face over the coming months is to find ways to keep the disease at bay without recourse to imposing lockdown restrictions and their associated economic and emotional harm.
And that will not be easy – as has been made clear from other lessons learned over the past six months, Woolhouse added.
-The one key feature that we have come to appreciate about Covid-19 is that it is a disease of old age,” he said.
The problems concerning the disease’s impact on adults start when a person reaches 50 and get exponentially greater for each additional year of age.
Implementing such ideas has only become feasible because virus testing technology has improved both in accuracy and scale over the past couple of months.
And that offers other advantages and opportunities to understand other questions about Covid-19, said Anne Johnson, professor of epidemiology at University College London.
With the development of new virus and antibody tests, there should therefore be far greater, data-based understanding of the appearance and spread of Covid-19 cases in Britain.
-Studies suggest antibodies are raised in patients’ blood after they are infected and these could provide protection against future Covid-19 infections,” said Hibberd.
-Have numbers of antibodies in their blood held steady or have they started to go down after only a few months?
For those who were on the front line dealing with Covid-19 cases when significant numbers began to arrive in hospitals in April, the battle to save patients overwhelmed by critical breathing difficulties was a fraught and often bewildering business.
-The crucial point is that we are gathering data all the time – from blood tests, oxygen levels, respiratory rates – and hopefully that will help us to predict who is likely to have the worst reaction to the virus and who should be given the most intense treatments.
-Trials are now under way for a number of antiviral drugs that were developed to deal with other diseases but which are now being repurposed in the hope that they can be used to tackle Covid-19.
|disease||MESH||emerging infectious diseases|