I believed the pandemic can be over by now. And I’m not alone; there have been refined fashions predicting a dramatic drop within the variety of infections by the summer season. And whereas there was comprehensible fear concerning the second wave, re-infection, and the approaching flu season, there was good cause to consider we’d have the worst of the primary wave effectively behind us.
Now, that every one looks like wishful considering. Right here we’re, over 9 months into the pandemic, with greater than 224,000 deaths, and greater than 70,000 new instances and 800 deaths each day on this nation as of late October. There are new sizzling spots popping up within the US and everywhere in the world. Herd immunity, whether or not as a consequence of an infection or vaccination, remains 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 record
It’s straightforward to overlook some optimistic developments about how the struggle 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 explanation for COVID-19, mapped its genome, and tracked its unfold.
For a virus that was unknown lower than a 12 months in the past, all of these items occurred rapidly due to the dedication and cooperation of scientists and public well being officers world wide. Think about how issues can be proper now if we nonetheless didn’t know the reason for this horrible illness, and had no thought 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 help these suggestions has been revealed solely just lately. Research of the effectiveness of those measures (equivalent to this, this, and this) make it troublesome to justify not following these suggestions.
- There may be growing proof that testing and contact tracing work.
Recognizing that there are formidable challenges and obstacles to widespread implementation of those measures, we’ve seen higher containment in locations the place testing and call tracing are routine (equivalent to New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore). And it appears possible that in some unspecified time in the future we’ll have new and better tests with improved accuracy, extra widespread availability (together with residence testing), and quicker turnaround occasions.
- The care of sufferers with COVID-19 has improved from the early days of the pandemic.
This may increasingly account for experiences of lower rates of death among the many sickest individuals with COVID-19. Elevated testing, detection of extra asymptomatic instances, and extra sufferers in youthful age teams may additionally be contributing to enhancing numbers. Nonetheless, supportive care (equivalent to “proning” patients), sure medicines (equivalent to dexamethasone and the just lately accepted remdesivir), and extra expertise with this an infection have possible improved outcomes total. Importantly, now we have additionally recognized ineffective remedies (equivalent to hydroxychloroquine — see here, here, and here for research), in order that we are able to keep away from these which might be pointless and probably dangerous.
- Quite a lot of vaccines have been developed, and large-scale trials are on observe to find out that are protected and efficient.
Once more, this has occurred at unprecedented pace. A number of corporations are engaged on completely 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 isn’t a assure that any of the vaccines within the pipeline can be profitable, these developments enhance the possibilities that we’ll have an efficient vaccine prior to later.
It’s value emphasizing that there are main concerns about the safety of moving so fast, an absence of transparency about trial data, and the potential for politics influencing the process, all of which might promote a reluctance to be vaccinated. Nonetheless, it appears higher that this effort is underneath method, reasonably than having to attend years for a possible vaccine to be accepted.
The underside line
Loads about how our nation has responded to the pandemic might — and will — have gone higher. However issues can be even worse if not for the objects on this record.
If all of us do our half within the struggle towards COVID-19, excellent news ought to grow to be simpler to search out. Possibly that’s already occurring: some locations have been capable of contain or practically eliminate COVID-19, no less than briefly. And bathroom paper is again on the shop cabinets.
Observe me on Twitter @RobShmerling
For extra info on COVID-19, see the Harvard Well being Coronavirus Resource Center.