by Melaku G Woldeselassie
I listened to the press conference given by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding what needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus. The Director Dr. Adhanom and his team were saying the focus of nations at this critical time in the history of the humankind, after the Spanish flu, should be on containment of the spread, and not its mitigation.
The Health Organization was saying we need to keep working on the mitigation efforts as well, but now is the only chance for containment, and countries should not miss this opportunity. Once the chance to contain the spread is lost then there will be thousands of patients that exceed capacities, and the mitigation efforts will not bring the desired result since mitigation will be surpassed by the demands for the needed medical care. Thousands will have no choice but to go through the illness without any medical help.
Here in the US, people are asking several valid questions. Is the government doing the right thing in being victorious in the anti-viral war? What is going to happen next? When is everything going back to normal? Is life going to be the same past the aftermath of this crisis? In all these questions we need the divine intervention of our creator.
The way forward in tackling this problem is to have a good understanding of the bigger picture by identifying two critical dates, the first being the ever changing today and the second is the date where either vaccine or a cure is found. Every effort we do in between the two critical dates is a journey towards that final date either in CYCLES of outbreaks and doldrums/containment in the spread of the virus or go through one MONOTONOUS timeline where the virus is provided with the opportunity to spread exponentially following the law of natural selection.
Assuming what China is reporting about its success to be true, China and Italy may be real examples of the two approaches. One can see from a distance that China has taken extreme measures to stop the spread. However, the country is not immune from another round of outbreak(s). And, if or when the pandemic re surfaces again, it will be dealt with a similar but with a more advanced technique(s) and higher level of preparedness as it will not be a new challenge.
This way China has a better prospect of making it to the goal line or the date of vaccine or cure, with one or more cycles of outbreaks each time dealing with the pandemic in a more efficient manner. The cyclical approach will have a better prospect because of two reasons one is going through manageable mitigation efforts, and the second is ability to deal with the next outbreak cycle in a more efficient way, experience adds up.
What we see here in the US is problematic because the public is not seeing a unified action by all States as in Germany. There is a lock down in one or two states, and another level of response in another state(s). It’s kind of waiting until the fatalities in other State(s) reach some shocking level before a similar action is taken as in New York or Washington. That is not proactive but a classical reactive approach.
I do not believe a country be it US or other should follow such a protracted approach in containing such a deadly virus because doing so will be like giving the virus abundant time to operate under the law of natural selection. It will be more effective, if a serious measure is taken to contain the virus forcing the situation go back to some 2019 level. When that happens, people may go back to their normal lives, but with a higher public awareness implementing what has been learned in social distancing, using masks and others.
If or when the Virus resurfaces after some time, then there can be another cycle or round of lockdown and other measures. We all know for fact that humanity will be better prepared for that next outbreak cycle of the pandemic. That way the Scientists can buy the time they need until they come up with a workable solution that we desperately want, effective treatment, Vaccine or other medication.
Cyclical approach demands temporary sacrifice both on the part of the public and businesses, but it is better than one monotonous timeline of disaster where thousands have to die without any medical help as the mitigation effort cannot cope up with the spread of the deadly virus. In a cyclical approach, we know that every cycle the virus will be dealt with a better level of awareness, social engineering, tools, supplies facilities, and treatments. And during these cycles there will be effective and manageable mitigation.
Each cycle should have a lock-down with a universal quarantine, diagnose, isolate, contain and return to the NEW NORMAL until there is a new round of outbreak. In all these diagnosis and isolation are of paramount importance. Just an opinion.
By the way, here is the list of categorical activities
Mitigation Ex – screening people with symptoms, treating patients including the use of ventilators, increasing number of ventilators and other necessary supplies, supporting families financially etc.
Containment Ex -washing hands, using masks, sanitizing the environment, increasing number of sanitizers in the market, social distancing, lock down, quarantine, universal screening and isolation