Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Pandemic to Endemic

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

"There's a good chance the coronavirus will never go away.

"Even after a vaccine is discovered and deployed, the coronavirus will likely remain for decades to come, circulating among the world's population

Experts call such diseases endemic--stubbornly resisting efforts to stamp them out. Think measles, HIV, chickenpox." (The common cold is included in that list, caused by one of four endemic corona viruses.)

So starts a May 27 article in the Washington Post free series on the novel coronavirus by reporters William Wan and Carolyn Y. Johnson. These are not the comforting words so many appear to believe will be true. The plain, non-sugar coated fact though, is that it is unlikely there will be a magic bullet just a long term coronaviral artillery sniping at and hitting some of us. Seasonally or year round? That is not known. However, a vaccine(s) will ameliorate our response, year-after-year-after-year.

So as Tom Frieden, former director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is quoted we have got to learn to do more than one thing. COVID-19 requires "a comprehesive battle strategy, meticulously implemented."

Which means it requires some things we are not very good at: "long-range thinking, sustained effort, international coordination, time, money, political will."

This essay also was reprinted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (May 29).

I must add this footnote of a recent interview in STAT with Anthony Fauci which included several questions on vaccine development.  In it he states that "I am not really very concerned about the timetable," for which he provides reasons and that having a vaccine available--"A significant number of doses available by the end of the year, the beginning of 2021."  The unknown, and it is a large one, "is it going to be effective? [T]here's no guarantee it's going to be effective." And he likes "that there are multiple candidates." The answer to the last question on whether the president talks with him about the vaccine work often is stated in only the way that Fauci does.

Do yourself a favor and read this interview by Helen Branswell for there is more information and it will give you an idea of the vaccine development process from someone who knows the territory. He is a far more reliable guide than me.

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