The fight against Covid-19 across the world has been ongoing for a while now. The mammoth scale makes it seem no less than an ongoing war, as countries one after the other lock themselves down to prevent the spread of the diseases and break its transmission chain at all costs through social distancing and self isolation among other measures.
The other side of this pandemic is the fight of the scientific and medical communities to find answers to this difficult puzzle at the earliest. Working overtime, the world scientific community is converging forces and brainstorming hard to fight back. Some reportage in the media seems to suggest reasons for optimism now.
'End of coronavirus pandemic is near': Nobel laureate Michael Levitt
Nobel Laureate biophysicist Michael Levitt has told the LA Times that in his opinion, the fast-spreading disease is likely to come to a halt, but gradually.
Based on his statistical analysis of data from 78 countries that reported over 50 new cases of virus every single day, Michael Levitt said that he had found some “signs of recovery”. His core focus was not on the cumulative figure, but on the number of new cases identified every day — and, particularly, on the change in that number from one day to the next.
“Numbers are still noisy but there are clear signs of slowed growth,” the Business Standard quoted the LA Times reportage, with Levitt asserting that social distancing and getting vaccinated against Covid-19 are both extremely crucial to curb the spread.
It may be noted that Levitt’s statistical findings had in February 2020 anticipated around 80,000 number of confirmed cases in China with about 3,250 deaths. And his forecast turned out to be almost correct with a total tally of about 80,298 cases and 3,245 deaths by the mid-February. He said, despite the spread of coronavirus peaking in China, the country has been witnessing fewer newly diagnosed patients since March 16.
Finding A Cure for Covid-19: Just weeks away from a Solution, Say Scientists in America
Even as the statistical measures suggest some degree of improvement, it is essential to remember that efforts are ongoing to find a treatment for the affected patients. Various treatment strategies are already under experimentation, including in the United States of America. The d Department of Pathology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has been working on two particular strategies.
The first is serum therapy, wherein antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients is used to treat other patients. The other is the ‘repurposing’ of existing drugs, whereby a drug that has already been found safe and approved for treatment of one disease also is found useful in treating another. USA Today shared a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which had reported scientists expressing confidence in finding a cure “within weeks” by replying on these two strategies.
Could Lessons from Past Outbreaks Help Fight the Covid-19 Pandemic?
Answers are also being searched in the past, especially with respect to pandemics that hit the world a century ago to understand the nature and timing of response needed to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak. Scientific American reported views of scientists to assert how social distancing measures, communication and international cooperation helped fight the 1918 influenza pandemic and 2002–2003 SARS outbreak.
“Past influenza pandemics give some sense of what the overall [trajectory] of a virus like this would be because the reproductive number of this virus (how many people each infectious person transmits the disease to in a completely susceptible population) is pretty similar to that of a pandemic flu,” the Scientific American quoted Marc Lipsitch, Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard University. Further, research on the 1918 pandemic showed that early implementation of nonpharmaceutical control measures related to social distancing could help prevent peak demands on their health care systems and flatten the pandemic curve.
With SARS, the report highlighted how intense public measures were key to eliminating it. However, the measures could not come in time due to the lack of correct and effective communication – for a number of months, the government in China actively denied the existence of the disease. Instead people relied on text messages and rumours about a new killer flu.
With the guarded optimism surfacing now from the scientific community, hopefully, the tide will turn, and the world will defeat Covid-19.