We will overcome this pandemic and SARS-CoV-2 will be another of many like it was a broken heartache.
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Original note published in The Conversation
To the A. Victoria de Andrés Fernández, University of Malaga
Is there a goal that currently seems more desirable than eradicating COVID-19?
Hard-working scientists, exhausted toilets, burned-out politicians, bankrupt businesspeople, unemployed workers … and vaccines arriving by dropper. This is the enormous panorama with which the news in a dystopian take on Groundhog Day Trapped in time, crush us day after day in a psychologically devastating loop.
An example of optimism
We will try to escape this apocalyptic pessimism in order to look to the future with positive perspectives. Humanity has overcome terrible things before, and I am not speaking figuratively. Take smallpox, for example. Until how who says YesterdaySmallpox was a major health threat to humanity. Our species had been plagued by brutal periodic outbreaks since ancient times. Indeed, traces of its devastation have been discovered in the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses V, and its effects can be seen in civilizations as distant as 4th century China or 7th century India.
This contagious disease, which had the aggravating factor of having the highest mortality rate in infants and children under five, left enormous consequences for survivors, including blindness, encephalitis, or osteomyelitis. As if that weren’t enough, you followed his signature in the form of deep scars on your skin for a lifetime.
But it was overdue. The development of effective vaccines enabled the World Health Assembly, the highest decision-making body in the WHO, to approve the declaration of its extermination in 1980 after registering a final case in Somalia in 1977.
It’s over. The horrible Variola virus it had been wiped out from the planet. Science, the coordination of international organizations, and the trust of many people in the work had won the game.
Can we achieve such success with SARS-CoV-2?
Can we achieve such success with SARS-CoV-2? If we compare these two infectious diseases – especially with regard to their epidemiological properties – we find very significant differences:
Was smallpox very visible. The pustules and eruptions it caused on the skin affected the entire surface, including the face and hands. That is, the virus carrier was easily detectable without the need for PCR or antigen testing. Sang from afar, let’s go. If you’ve seen someone like this, no one has forced you to keep a safe distance, regardless of your academic background, country of origin, or age. They alone knew intuitively that it was best to express it Air in between.
The time between infection and the first symptoms was very short. This meant that the disease couldn’t spread too far without being noticed. That asymptomatic phase in which you act like a human Virus sprinklers left and right, without noticing it, it was very small.
The Variola virus it only affected people. Except for one person from homo sapiensSmallpox had nowhere to hide. No other animal species had reservoirs of these viruses. On the contrary, our hated coronavirus does not taxonomically discriminate. From what we know so far, it doesn’t matter if it’s bats, psoriasis, mink, or humans. Unfortunately you have to “think” that What doesn’t kill you makes you fat.
Smallpox survivors and those who were vaccinated showed complete and lifelong immunity to the virus. This meant health workers around the world could do their jobs more safely and effectively by not being subjected to cumbersome biosafety measures. We can’t say the same thing about the new coronavirus as we still don’t know how long our vaccines will protect us or whether doctors and nurses will be able to get rid of EPIs working.
After all, smallpox was an old acquaintance of science, while SARS-CoV-2, as who says, just arrived to our laboratories and with the aggravating circumstance that it does not stop mutating and creating new strains.
Is there still reason to be optimistic?
Yes, of course.
Let’s analyze another set of differences between the two virological battle scenarios, this time in our favor:
The progress of molecular biology, genetics or virology in these 50 years (to quote some of the biological disciplines that are directly involved in research against SARS-CoV-2) was spectacular. What is known today is not only orders of magnitude higher than it was in the 1970s, it was also not conceived.
To name just a few examples, it wasn’t until 1977 that the entire genome of an organism was sequenced for the first time (the bacteriophage Phi X 174, owned by double Nobel Prize winner Frederick Sanger), and it wasn’t until 1987 that a virus was identified using molecular cloning techniques. These spectacular advances, which at first sounded like science fiction, are now routine techniques in most biological research laboratories.
There is internet. This miracle tool for all human activity has been a boon to science. The ability to have in real time all the knowledge that is generated in the various disciplines of a particular area of knowledge is a quantum leap for scientific research. Working in a network has made it possible to achieve the utopia of interconnectivity between different disciplines, levels of biological complexity, working groups, universities, research institutes and hospitals in all countries. In other words, the pace of global scientific advancement that the world is experiencing today was unimaginable decades ago.
We will overcome this pandemic and SARS-CoV-2 will be like it’s a broken heartache another one of many.
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