Experts say that if enough people are infected by the Corona virus, actually as many as 50-60 percent of a population, the virus will die out by itself. That is true according to scientific knowledge. However, there may be a high death toll on the way since the medicines that are available for patients who fall sick are still not very affective. Not all infected people fall seriously ill, though, but it seams difficult to know who it is that have that luck, if they can recover at home and indeed not needing hospitalization or even intensive care.
People who believe, or want to believe, that the Corona virus will die out by itself, for unknown reasons, base that assumption on experience with other viruses in the past, such as SARS. President Trump was one of those who thought so, well, he just hoped so, almost making it a promise in his campaign for a second term in the White House, with elections coming up in early November this year.
Most people, though, simply wait for a vaccine to be discovered, and the development of affective medicines to treat those who fall seriously ill. There are tens of thousands of researchers working day and night to reach results, testing medicament on animals, and if results are promising and side-affects are few, continue with tests on humans. The more serious institutes are probably just a few dozen, and the ones with very promising results, just a few handfuls. But with experimental sciences, even small laboratories may ‘strike gold’. Work of all institutes is supported or coordinated by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), liaising with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and other groups.
To find medicines for cure and vaccine is a cooperative effort. Yet, it is also a competitive effort. The individuals and institutes that will discover effective medicines first, will become famous and be glorified, and they will also be able to make tons of money. The vaccine would probably only last for a few years, needing to be repeated, the way it is with ordinary flu vaccines. For treatment, the medicines may be many, and probably costly, like the AIDS medicines that allow people a normal life, if they can afford the medicines. More than thirty million people have died from AIDS worldwide.
It is essential that when Corona medicines are found, there are regulations in place, oversea by WHO, so that the distribution of the medicines will be fair. To begin with, there will be limited amounts of medicines available. Hence, it is important that all countries cooperate in solidarity with each other for a fair distribution of medicines, once discovered. An overall policy should be put in place to prioritize specific user groups in all countries, not only the rich countries, notably health workers, people with underlying deceases, the elderly, and other groups. WHO stresses that democratic principles must be followed worldwide, and that we must all show solidarity with each other in the battle we are in. Time will tell if we will indeed do that.
Development aid needs to be channeled to the area of Corona vaccine and treatment, so that poor countries, and poor people in all countries, can have access to treatment and vaccination. I hope that the donor countries and agencies are already developing plans for action once medicines are available. I also hope they have beg up assisting countries that need help with policy planning and information campaigns. But I am not convinced that much is actually done, except for saying another one hundred million more people have fallen below the line of deep poverty, having to live on less than two dollars a day. Malnutrition will grow and less funds will go to education, and other essential things to so that the next generation can cope with life.
Nobody knows for sure when the medicines for cure and vaccination will be available – or if at all. Some experts suggest early in 2021, or maybe later that year. Recently, an institute in Oxford, UK, has suggested that they may have something available already in the autumn or winter of 2020. Other scientists have questioned if that can really be possible, including experts in my home country Norway. Last week, several scientific groups reminded us to be sober and not expect miracles; Corona pandemic and the Covid-19 virus will be with us for many years, and life is not likely to go back to the way if was in many years.
In that country, the Director-General of the Public Health Institute (FHI), Dr. Camilla Stolen berg, has warned that the Corona pandemic, bad as it is, may not be the worst one we will see in our time. That means that we should not only focus on finding specific medicines for the Covid-19 virus, but also allocate money and people for broader studies to find causes of the current and other terrible epidemics, pandemics and plagues, and how to handle the situations once they occur. Still, we must not drift into pessimism, but remain optimistic and believe in the scientists and experts. We must also believe in the politicians, who will be in charge of implementing what the experts come up with. It is also the politicians who decide on allocation of funds for prevention and treatment.
Social Scientist, Oslo/Islamabad
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