I assumed the pandemic can be over by now. And I’m not alone; there have been subtle fashions predicting a dramatic drop within the variety of infections by the summer time. And whereas there was comprehensible fear concerning the second wave, re-infection, and the approaching flu season, there was good motive to imagine we’d have the worst of the primary wave nicely behind us.
Now, that each one looks like wishful pondering. Right here we’re, over 9 months into the pandemic, with greater than 224,000 deaths, and greater than 70,000 new circumstances and 800 deaths on daily basis on this nation as of late October. There are new scorching spots popping up within the US and all around the world. Herd immunity, whether or not attributable to an infection or vaccination, continues to be many months and even years away — if it occurs in any respect. Regardless of these challenges, we do have some excellent news.
Excellent news about COVID-19: my prime 5 listing
It’s straightforward to overlook some constructive developments about how the combat towards this pandemic goes, given all of the gloomy information. Right here’s my perspective on 5 necessary ones.
- Quickly after its look, researchers recognized the viral reason for COVID-19, mapped its genome, and tracked its unfold.
For a virus that was unknown lower than a yr in the past, all of this stuff occurred rapidly due to the dedication and cooperation of scientists and public well being officers around the globe. Think about how issues can be proper now if we nonetheless didn’t know the reason for this horrible illness, and had no concept the place it was spreading.
- We now have good proof that face coverings and bodily distancing work.
Though recommendations to wear masks or different face coverings and to take care of bodily distance have been first made many months in the past, a compelling scientific case to assist these suggestions has been revealed solely just lately. Research of the effectiveness of those measures (similar to this, this, and this) make it tough to justify not following these suggestions.
- There may be growing proof that testing and contact tracing work.
Recognizing that there are formidable challenges and limitations to widespread implementation of those measures, we’ve seen higher containment in locations the place testing and get in touch with tracing are routine (similar to New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore). And it appears doubtless that sooner or later we’ll have new and better tests with improved accuracy, extra widespread availability (together with house testing), and quicker turnaround occasions.
- The care of sufferers with COVID-19 has improved from the early days of the pandemic.
This will account for stories of lower rates of death among the many sickest folks with COVID-19. Elevated testing, detection of extra asymptomatic circumstances, and extra sufferers in youthful age teams may additionally be contributing to bettering numbers. Nonetheless, supportive care (similar to “proning” patients), sure medicines (similar to dexamethasone and the just lately accredited remdesivir), and extra expertise with this an infection have doubtless improved outcomes total. Importantly, we’ve additionally recognized ineffective therapies (similar to hydroxychloroquine — see here, here, and here for research), in order that we will keep away from these which can be pointless and doubtlessly dangerous.
- Numerous vaccines have been developed, and large-scale trials are on monitor to find out that are protected and efficient.
Once more, this has occurred at unprecedented velocity. A number of firms are engaged on totally different vaccine candidates. Manufacturing of some main candidates is already occurring, and officers are planning to distribute hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses within the coming months. Whereas there is no such thing as a assure that any of the vaccines within the pipeline shall be profitable, these developments enhance the possibilities that we’ll have an efficient vaccine before later.
It’s value emphasizing that there are main concerns about the safety of moving so fast, a scarcity of transparency about trial data, and the potential for politics influencing the process, all of which may promote a reluctance to be vaccinated. Nonetheless, it appears higher that this effort is beneath manner, relatively than having to attend years for a possible vaccine to be accredited.
The underside line
Lots about how our nation has responded to the pandemic may — and may — have gone higher. However issues can be even worse if not for the objects on this listing.
If all of us do our half within the combat towards COVID-19, excellent news ought to develop into simpler to search out. Perhaps that’s already occurring: some locations have been in a position to contain or almost eliminate COVID-19, at the very least quickly. And bathroom paper is again on the shop cabinets.
Comply with me on Twitter @RobShmerling
For extra info on COVID-19, see the Harvard Well being Coronavirus Resource Center.