When Will Coronavirus Pandemic End?

When Will Coronavirus Pandemic End

When Will Coronavirus Pandemic End – here are the views of Dr. Bruce Aylward, team lead with the WHO iin the Covid-19 fight.

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Dr. Bruce Aylward has almost 3 decades experience in combating Ebola, Polio and other diseases, and now, he’s turned his focus to stopping the spread of the current strain of Coronavirus – COVID-19. Aylward, the senior consultant to the Director-General of the WHO (World Health Organization), is one of the world’s top officials in charge of spearheading the coronavirus pandemic fight. The doctor, who led a joint World Health Organization mission to China last month to study the efficacy of the coronavirus response in the country, has first hand knowledge of the measures Beijing took to fight the virus. Now he’s sharing his experience with governments and communicating with the World Health Organization response teams working to fight COVID-19 in virus epicentres around the world.
In an comprehensive teleconference interview with TIME from his office in Geneva, Aylward expressed his views on what needs to be done to stop the pandemic, and what the future might hold.

In an comprehensive teleconference interview with TIME from his office in Geneva, Aylward expressed his views on what needs to be done to stop the pandemic, and what the future might hold.

The following extracts from the dialogue have been summarized and edited for clarity.

Do you anticipate COVID-19 to go on spreading?

We can get some signs into the future from locations that are recently getting infected, places that aren’t infected, but also the epicentre where it all started. And if you reflect and look back at China right now, they (detected the virus) in early January, they had a full blown response, sort of threw all their might at it, and it’s middle of March now and they reckon maybe end of March they’ll be coming out of it, so a full three months.

When you look around the globe in North America, Europe and the Middle East, you can see that we’re really at the period of exponential spread, we’re still witnessing the virus going up very, very rapidly, even in badly affected places like Italy, for example. These nations still have months of this challenge to confront with.

When you look to other regions of the globe, like Africa, for example, and parts of the Indian subcontinent you will observe that it’s just beginning. Even though they don’t have many cases, if you look meticulously at that curve, it’s also in a phase of rapid growth.

Where do you think we will be with this pandemic six months from now?

I expect we will be evolving—still with virus in several parts of the world—but we should be getting out of the bad wave of this disease across a large portion of the planet. The challenge is that, in 6 months from now, we’re going to be heading straight into the flu season. And one of the huge questions is, are we going to see a recurrence of COVID-19 again at that period?

Looking beyond the immediate future, what do you anticipate? Will COVID-19 ever cease to exist?

What it appears is that we’re heading into a substantial wave of this disease right through basically the globe unless something very unique happens in the southern hemisphere. And then the question arises: What’s going to happen? Is this going to vanish totally? Are we going to get into a phase of recurring waves? Or are we going to end up with low intensity prevalent disease that we have to deal with? Most people think that that first situation where this might disappear entirely is very, very unlikely, it just spread too easily in the human population, so more likely waves or low level disease.

Almost everything is going to depend on what we as nations, as societies, do. If testing is rampant and every detected case is isolated and treated, you should be able to keep cases down low. If you simply rely on the big lockdowns without finding every case, then every time you take the guard off, it could come back even stronger. Our response to this developing situation holds the answer to this question.

The U.S. and Europe had a head start to get ready for this. Despite this a major outbreak is here, or could it have been stopped?

We probably haven’t used that head start prudently. With the global lockdowns what we’ve done is, we’ve just gained more time. But this buying of time will not actually stop the virus, it only suppresses it and slows it. What you should be actually doing now is to use that time well to get the testing in place, to get the systems to work efficiently, so that you can actually manage the individual level cases. This is going to be rudimentary to stopping this virus from stopping.

Is there a possibility of a second wave of infections in China?

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Absolutely, and China is deeply concerned of a second wave and is preparing for it. Though their cases are plummeting—in some of the places they were down to single digit cases already -but they are still building beds, buying ventilators and getting prepared. They do not expect this virus to disappear, but they are determined not to fail in a similar situation again.

What countries are in the most susceptible situation?

Everyone is exposed, but the big problem of course is what’s going to happen when this actually starts to take off in those low-income countries where they are not that much medically equipped, such as in Africa.

It’s one of those things that you are frightened to imagine because the numbers could be so grim.

What would your advice be for younger generation around the world?

This is one of the most serious diseases you will encounter in your lifetime, and don’t take it lightly. It is hazardous to you as an individual. It is critical to your parents, to your grandparents and the elderly in particular and it is dangerous to your society in general. You are not alone in this, you are part of a bigger community, you are part of transmission chains. If you get infected you are making this much more complex and you are putting all the people around you in danger, not just yourself.

What should a country’s top priority after locking down be?

Test, test, test, test, test. Not test, test, test, test, test everyone, but test the suspects, test the suspects, test the suspects.

How do you believe this will end?

This will end with humanity triumphant over yet another virus, there’s no doubt about that. The question is how much and how fast we will take the measures vital to curtail the harm that this thing can do.

And it’s going to take great teamwork and perseverance from the general population to play their part because at the end of the day it’s going to be the general population that halts this thing and slows it down adequately to get it under control.

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Sources: TIME, Twitter

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