Yesterday, September 10
At the end of July, the Lancet magazine published an article, the authors of which – three dozen leading European medical scientists – reflect on the direction in which the Covid-19 pandemic may develop in the coming months and years.
And the main question asked by the authors of the article is whether the pandemic will end within three to five years?
According to the BBC Russian Service, this, according to European experts, will depend on three main factors:
how quickly will it be possible to vaccinate – both in individual countries (different levels of wealth) and on a global scale;
how exactly the virus will mutate – in other words, how dangerous the new (not yet appeared) variants will be;
how strictly residents will comply with the necessary restrictive measures.
Today, the authors note, the state of affairs in all these areas does not look very optimistic.
Only every fourth adult inhabitant of the planet received both prescribed doses of the vaccine – and the point is not only in the unavailability of drugs, but also in distrust of them.
The especially infectious viral strain “Delta” has already penetrated into almost all countries and is gradually displacing its less dangerous counterparts from there, and what is most unpleasant – it often infects those who have already been ill or fully vaccinated from Covid-19.
At the same time, restrictive measures around the world are observed, according to the conclusions of the authors of the article, all the worse.
Statistics show that the world is at the peak of the third wave of the pandemic: since mid-July, the number of confirmed diagnoses has soared more than one and a half times (from 350 to 655 thousand daily).
The authors of the article find it difficult to say with confidence whether Covid-19 will pose a serious threat to health in the long term.
On the one hand, they admit that it is unlikely that it will be possible to completely get rid of the virus: even if every single one of the covid patients recovers, the infection will continue to walk among the animals – and may mutate there in unexpected ways.
On the other hand, a lot depends on how quickly an effective drug will be found – not only on the disease itself, but also for combating a protracted form of infection.
In more detail, possible scenarios for the development of a pandemic are outlined in an article published at the end of July in the JAMA journal of the American Medical Society.
A large-scale vaccination campaign (and in the US it is gaining momentum rather quickly) gives hope for a relatively early return to normal life, the authors write.
“However, there are many obstacles on the way to it: extremely uneven availability of vaccines, persistent reluctance to vaccinate, emerging new variants of the virus and global waves of deadly infection,” they add.
The four possible scenarios described in the paper “represent the spectrum of potential outcomes that could resolve the Covid-19 epidemic.”
Scenario one is eradication.
It provides that doctors will be able to finally erase Covid-19 from the face of the Earth, as it happened almost half a century ago with the variola virus.
However, this success can be repeated only on one condition. Immunity (both after vaccination and after an illness) must be strong and long-lasting – so that it protects against re-infection and at the same time prevents further transmission of infection.
In the case of Covid-19, there is little hope for that.
“A more realistic task in the short term,” the authors call elimination, that is, a temporary decrease in the number of infections in a particular country due to mass vaccinations and a strict system of restrictive measures – in fact, the complete closure of borders and isolation from the outside world.
The most famous such example today is the situation with the measles virus. Thanks to mass childhood vaccinations, outbreaks of the disease are rare these days and can be brought under control relatively quickly.
As the authors of the work write, this option is most likely if the epidemic has to be kept under control, periodically updating the vaccine.
The third scenario – life with a virus (cohabitation) – proceeds from the assumption that the developed vaccines (or rather their future modifications) will continue to protect only from the severe course of Covid-19 and death.
In such conditions, where there are many vaccinated, the virus will cease to pose a mortal danger and, in fact, Covid-19 will turn into a seasonal cold.
Of course, sometimes vaccinated people will also get sick – due to a decrease in their general immunity, a natural drop in the level of antibodies over time, or new mutations of the virus. However, most of the population will be sufficiently protected at any given time.
And finally, the fourth scenario is a large-scale conflagration.
This option is most likely if a significant part of the world’s population remains unvaccinated – whether due to a problem with vaccine availability, medical contraindications, low immune status, or simply personal reluctance. In this case, the virus will continue to spread rapidly – and therefore mutate.
Back in January, the journal Nature conducted a survey of scientists – immunologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists from around the world, collecting a total of more than a hundred expert opinions.
Almost 90% of respondents are of the opinion that it will not be possible to completely destroy the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus and it will continue to periodically infect people around the world.
At the same time, children who have been ill at an early age will receive stronger immunity than adults, and at the same time partial protection against future mutations of the virus.
Mike Ryan, WHO Executive Director for Health Emergencies, says he himself would like to know when the pandemic will end.
But the doctor must always tell the patients the truth, and the truth is that no one knows the answer to this question yet.
“What I know for sure is that it will end faster if each of us does something for this,” he is sure. “If we give vaccines more chances for use around the world. how to protect ourselves and protect those around us. If our hospitals can better help the sick. “
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