- There was an exponential spread of coronavirus in a number of countries, starting with China and then throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States.
- By changing behavior, many countries have gotten the infection rate to plateau and start to come down.
- Reproduction rate, or R0 (pronounced “are-nought”) is used to calculate how many new infections are caused by an earlier infection.
- R0 is hard to measure, but we know it’s below 1.0 wherever the number of cases is going down and above 1.0 wherever the number of cases is going up.
- And what may appear to be a small difference in R0 can lead to very large changes.
A recently published post by Bill Gates in his Gates Notes, speaks about the scientific advances we need to stop COVID-19. The post elaborates on the infection in community, how we overreacted, difference among countries, things to learn concerning COVID-19, the role of Gates Foundation, Innovation to beat the enemy, treatment, vaccines, testing, contact tracing, second phase of the epidemic, and the pandemic that has defined this era.
Let us have a look at the excerpt of this long post in the following sections.
It is very essential to test all of the people so that it would be easy to find out the emerging hot spots and intervene immediately. We don’t want to wait until the hospitals start to fill up and more people die. Innovation can help us get the numbers up.
Bill Gates foundation supported research showing that having patients do the swab themselves produces results that are just as accurate. This self-swab approach is faster and safer, since regulators should be able to approve swabbing at home or in other locations rather than having people risk additional contact.
Another diagnostic test under development would work much like an at-home pregnancy test. You would swab your nose, but instead of sending it into a processing center, you’d put it in a liquid and then pour that liquid onto a strip of paper, which would change color if the virus was present. This test may be available in a few months.
For now, the United States can follow Germany’s example: interview everyone who tests positive and use a database to make sure someone follows up with all their contacts. This approach is far from perfect, because it relies on the infected person to report their contacts accurately and requires a lot of staff to follow up with everyone in person. But it would be an improvement over the sporadic way that contact tracing is being done across the United States now.
An even better solution would be the broad, voluntary adoption of digital tools. For example, there are apps that will help you remember where you have been; if you ever test positive, you can review the history or choose to share it with whoever comes to interview you about your contacts. And some people have proposed allowing phones to detect other phones that are near them by using Bluetooth and emitting sounds that humans can’t hear. If someone tested positive, their phone would send a message to the other phones, and their owners could get tested. If most people chose to install this kind of application, it would probably help some.
Right now, there is no treatment for COVID-19
Hydroxychloroquine, which works by changing the way the human body reacts to a virus, has received a lot of attention. But several more-promising candidates are on the horizon. One involves drawing blood from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, making sure it is free of the coronavirus and other infections, and giving the plasma (and the antibodies it contains) to sick people. Several major companies are working together to see whether this succeeds.
Unlike a flu shot, which contains fragments of the influenza virus so your immune system can learn to attack them, an RNA vaccine gives your body the genetic code needed to produce viral fragments on its own. When the immune system sees these fragments, it learns how to attack them. An RNA vaccine essentially turns your body into its own vaccine manufacturing unit.Even before there’s a safe, effective vaccine, governments need to work out how to distribute it.
The coronavirus pandemic—the first in a century—will define this era. But there is one big difference between a world war and a pandemic: All of humanity can work together to learn about the disease and develop the capacity to fight it.
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Source: Gates Notes