Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
While many of us feel depressed about Coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic, and the World Health Organization is playing the role of scare-mongers, there really is a lot of good news from around the world. Unfortunately, media has a tendency of giving extra importance to covering bad news, because, readers do find negative stories more eye-catching. Certainly, it is not because each of us are suffering from down-syndrome, but most possibly we are interested in inkling towards news with fear, horror and suspense.
According to the latest statistics, Coronavirus remains mostly controlled in South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. Taiwan is barely visible in any of the graphs available on Covid-19 statistics, while Singapore actually has not had enough deaths to make it onto the figure-chart yet.
Once countries, which currently are under lockdown can emerge from the current situation, they too can copy the methods which these three countries have shown to have been working in containing this virus. Coronavirus may also be controlled in Hong Kong, Japan and China which are reporting few new cases. Some people though may argue saying, Hong Kong and Japan are not testing enough people to be sure, while China does not say how many tests it is running, but in reality, the realities are quite contrary. All of these nations also are working not only on testing people but also in adopting fresher policies in isolating the infected ones while saving others from being infected.
Most importantly, those two worst affected countries – Spain and Italy are seeing the rates of increase for new cases while death rates are dropping. Italy enforced a full national lockdown on March 9 and Spain did the same of March 14. As a result, the number of people dying each day has been stable in Italy for the last almost two weeks and it has been growing much more slowly in Spain for the last ten days.
In fact, as expected, most of the countries that have ensured letting people stay at homes or at least maintain the physical isolation are seeing the rate of new cases level off or decline within 1-3 weeks.
Consistent with that, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine just estimated that the reproductive rate of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom is now below 1. If that is correct, the number of new cases will level off and then decrease over the next 6 weeks.
Although we are not yet sure of how many people who become infected with Coronavirus die, but on March 31 the Oxford Center for Evidence Based Medicine reduced their best-guess estimate from 0.51 percent down to 0.1-0.26 percent.
Among other things, they think some people who have been classified as dying of Coronavirus or Covid-19 did not actually die of the disease but rather of serious existing conditions, and they just happened to have Coronavirus when they died.
The United States has gone from testing 350 people on the March 7 to 30,000 people on the March 19, up to 101,000 on the April 1.
Iceland has already tested almost 6 percent of its population and is releasing their data in a way that makes it very easy for others to analyze.
When the Coronavirus pandemic broke, many people have worried about whether we might end up unable to but enough food, because it could interfere with trade and supermarket supply chains. But, so far that does not seem to be happening. In the United Kingdom, supermarket like Tesco expects to be back to normal stock levels within weeks. In fact, they have hired 35 thousand people in just the past ten days, which has helped them expand delivery slots from 660,000 two weeks ago to 780,000 this week, with plans for further increases.
In Bangladesh, for example, super-stores are being able to meet the demand of the customers and there is hardly any shortage of stocks in any of the large super-stores and groceries in the country.
Medicine companies and medical scientists also are working hard in investing a medical remedy of Covid-19. For instance, last week, pharmaceutical firm Abbott Laboratories said it was launching a test for the SATS-COV-2 virus that could take as little as five minutes and “be run on a portable machine the size of a toaster”. German technology company Bosch says it has done the same. Last week, Johnson & Johnson said it had identified a vaccine candidate and the United States government was investing US$ 1 billion in its development.
Another group is investigating ways to start human trials for vaccine candidates early, using brave and willing volunteers, who have not been at all hard to find.
Stage 3 trials for remdesivir launched in the United Kingdom just this week. Remdesivir was described in one paper as the most promising candidate antiviral against Covid-19.
Finally, Moderna Therapeutics started doing human trials for a new kind of vaccine back in mid-March. That is the fastest the world has even gone from identifying a new disease to conducting vaccine trials on people.
A number of pharmaceutical companies in Israel are already working on finding Covid-19 vaccine and are expected finally Israeli companies may come up with great news within a few days.
It has been inspiring to see the world come together to help fight this pandemic, whether they are biologists, statisticians, engineers, civil servants, medics, supermarket staff, logistics managers, manufacturers, or one of the countless other roles.
A further piece of good news is that many of the innovations in policy, diagnostics, and treatment being pursued above will not only help us defeat COVID-19, but will also leave us much better prepared for the next pandemic, whenever it arrives.
Before concluding let me say, many people are referring to the forecast of the World Health Organization, where they have predicted death of millions around the world. It looks like this organization, instead of standing for giving people at least little bit of respite is actively trying to scare them for reasons unknown. There really is no valid point of buying those lousy words of this organization anymore.
Vijaya Laxmi Tripura is a research scholar and senior reporter of Blitz.