After Covid 19. How do we get there and what will it look like?
Some day they will find a cure for the common cold…
The virus that causes the common cold comes from the corona family of viruses, it is a variant that moved from animals into humans last year: corona virus 2019 (COVID-19).
“Corona viruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are four main sub-groupings of corona viruses, known as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. … [there are] seven corona viruses that can infect people.”
There are four that make up the most common respiratory infections. Then there are the new crossover viruses: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS and most recently SARS-CoV-2 more commonly known as covid 19 (cv19). (Source: CDC, retrieved on 2020-04-10.)
“Like most vaccinologists, I don’t think this vaccine will be ready before 18 months,” says Annelies Wilder-Smith, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. … The pandemic, says Wilder-Smith, “will probably have peaked and declined before a vaccine is available”. (Source: TheGuardian.com, retrieved on 2020-04-10.)
The question is when do we get over covid19 and “return to normal”?
Why are we doing what we are doing?
Why are we staying away from each other (by at least 6’)? (I have imagined wearing a tutu-like disk around my waste with a radius of 6’ to insure proper separation ;^)
We have agreed to participate in the attempt to “flatten the curve”. Specifically, the curve that shows the deadly relationship between ICU beds and respirators and the number of people deemed infected with covid19 and in need of that extreme treatment. This is not an attack on cv19, it is a strategy to limit the demand on life-saving equipment and procedures so that those resources can be available for those who most need them.
Both social isolation and super-hygiene are tactics we have employed to minimize the chances of catching this very infectious disease. The fact that the mortality rate on April 10, 2020 worldwide is about 6%; in the U.S. its about 4% is very heartening. Turned around, this means that if the infected individual doesn’t have preexisting conditions and is in reasonably good health, he or she has about a 96% chance of surviving a covd19 infection. The danger comes into play when the illness strikes individuals, like the author, who are over 70 years old and have a history of kidney problems for instance. Those of us in the at-risk population need to take extra care and pay extra attention to what is happening in our community as well as what our body in telling us. Early recognition and identification of the infection is a critical element of surviving the illness.
If, as Doctor Wilder-Smith states, a vaccine will ready after the peak of infections, how are we to live our lives between now and then?
It is expected that CV19, like SARS and MERS will become part of the human condition, like other infectious diseases from polio to measles. At some point we can expect a vaccine to become available but, like measles, for example, we need to be able to identify clusters of the disease and track the path of infection. This will enable the small population of those infected to be be isolated rather than locking down the whole country. The goal is to isolate the small population of infected people and stop the spread of infection. Right now, we don’t know who is infected until they display severe symptoms and then test them to verify that they have covid19. This is closing the door very much after the virus has left the “barn”.
To reach this post covid19 normal means having a set of accurate and reliable tests for the SARS/MERS family of viruses both available and affordable, for example at the pharmacies and the urgent care facilities across the U.S as well as doctor’s offices and hospitals.
If we know that only a tiny fraction of the population are hosts to a corona virus, and that those individuals will be identified, treated and the spread of the infections stopped in its tracks, then we can go back to participating in every day social intercourse.
In addition to frequent hand and local environment sanitization, this means that prayerful hands, a bow and a ‘Namaste’ may become the preferred greeting and parting ritual in place of glad-handing and hugs. This will be hard on us warm hearted southerners, but not as bad as the alternative.
Image credit: the feature image was created by the author, J.J. Hayden.