COVID-19 has been around with us for quite some time now. This microscopic virus is drilling holes into all our plans of making 2020 our best year yet. It hasn’t just tampered with many special plans but is toying around with the normal day-to-day lives of people around the world. All of us, despite our differences, are working hard to stick together against this crisis. Motivational quotes, inspiring messages are being spread throughout social media as people are trying to cope with Coronavirus and the many downfalls it has brought with it. Health care workers have been on their feet since the rise of this disease. Scientists are striving to find a vaccine to help stop the spread of this disease with utmost determination. So, COVID-19 has crippled us not only in terms of deterring health, but also in terms of economic disruption, unemployment surges, lack of income or high pay-cuts, and so on.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the forerunner in managing activities around the world and making sure that countries take proper measures to keep themselves safe. Amidst the talks of the possibilities of a second wave, WHO, in recent news, urged the people to deal with the first wave properly instead of panicking over a second wave that still hasn’t made an appearance. Let’s look into what a wave is in terms of a pandemic.
The World will be much better at fighting a second wave, if people can learn the lessons of fighting the first wave, says Dr.Ryan.
Pandemics are not very new to us. In 1918, the influenza virus spread became a pandemic. A lot of reasons contributed to the virus spreading globally, infecting over 500 million people all over the world. First identified in military personnel, the flu spread its destruction within a span of one year. The reason behind this virus becoming a pandemic and claiming many lives is still not conclusive, but lack of proper medical professionals available in the urban areas due to WWI, lack of a vaccine available, and so on played a part. The ‘waves’ associated with a pandemic can be seen in this time period. A wave has a dip and a rise, mostly bell-shaped with a proper peak. Similarly, we can see that the pandemic wave has a surge in the number of people affected by the pathogen or we could say a surge in the number of cases, that reaches a peak point or the highest number of cases, after which the wave dips with the reduction in the number of cases. The flu pandemic displayed 3 waves that were measured over the course of the entire pandemic. It began with a mild impact in the beginning and then later on with the next waves the intensity of the disease increased affecting more people than the first. The first wave began in the spring of 1918 with minor infectious cases being reported and went down quickly. But it’s second coming was pretty vigorous and made its appearance in the fall of 1918, 6 months after the first one died down.
The mortality rates grew with the second wave probably because of the mutant strain of the virus which carried more virulent properties and because of the world war situation, the military troops were sent out to different countries, hence aggravating the spread of the virus leading to a pandemic of great intensity. The general health condition of the population also plays a major role in the pandemic. The part of the population with underlying health conditions will be more prone to such infections than an average healthy person. This just goes to show that if there is a second wave that has a possibility of arising, then it might just inflict more damage to the already broken economy and health sectors. But the WHO is requesting we focus on the first wave. Let’s see why.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to rethink the way we work and live on a daily basis. It has got the whole world on a standstill due to the lack of proper medical solutions to contain it, leaving us with the sole option of imposing quarantine and lockdown measures. For the past 4 months many countries around the world have been surviving and functioning under lockdown rules and constrictions, maintaining social distancing at all places possible, and so on. But this has impacted the economy in a negative aspect and is forcing us to rethink ways to save it and make up for the losses incurred. Therefore, governments are planning to lift the lockdowns or ease the restrictions. This has caused a panic among individuals and health care experts because in a case where there is no vaccine available, quarantine and social distancing are the only possible ways to keep the situation under control as the coronavirus is extremely contagious, via human-human, similar to the 1918 influenza virus. Since the lockdowns were of great help, plans of lifting them are stirring new doubts regarding a resurgence of the disease and possibilities of a second wave. But WHO is insisting we focus on the current first wave as they believe it hasn’t completely dwindled.
Reproduction number is an important measure which indicates how many new cases one infected individual can cause, on an average. A case where R<1 is ideal as it shows that cases are decreasing. As long as herd immunity against the pathogen isn’t established, the risk of an increase in infections is to be considered. With a slight decrease in the case numbers, we shouldn’t be quick to check it off as the end of the first wave. We are facing a fluctuating set of peaks and troughs with the speed of pathogen spread increasing. So, lifting a lockdown will just increase the slightly dipped trough to a new peak in the first wave. Also, if coronavirus proves to be seasonal, then it is said that we can expect surges with the forthcoming winter. Mutations of the virus also hinder the development of herd immunity as new mutations bring in new structural and chemical differences in the pathogen which is new to the general public immunity.
Therefore, countries must be careful in planning the lockdown lift. Considerable restrictions to prevent contact between citizens have to put in place for safety. Increasing the rate of testing and implementing contact tracing measures will be effective in tracking down the infected people and possible and unidentified hosts. Collaborative studies and research work on the past pandemic scenarios and measures can be analyzed for suggestions and ideas to use while implementing relaxations. Stressing upon the use of masks and proper protective gear, regular sanitization, and cleaning of hands and possible products, etc. is important. Even if we have a vaccine at hand, it is up to the world population and their behavior to decide how and when this outbreak stops interfering with a normal lifestyle. Wave or no wave, it is better to keep making an effort to curb the spread and take care of our own selves now and in the future.