With the loosening of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in many countries and in parts of the US, it is natural to think that the COVID-19 pandemic is getting under control. But experts disagree with this growing belief and claim that the ending is far from over.
"More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this week. Meanwhile, a Toronto-based physician, Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, echoed a similar sentiment when he said this is 'an unprecedented situation.' He cited the case of a couple who died of Covid-19 within the span of minutes. "They died in the same room last night 3 minutes apart. This pandemic is only over for people who don't survive it."
Why is the Pandemic Not Over For All?
The number of daily coronavirus cases worldwide is reaching new heights. On Sunday, COVID-19 cases increased by more than 137,900 globally, according to JHU Dashboard, the highest single-day rise recorded so far. WHO's Ghebreyesus said that studies on how the population has been exposed to the virus showed that "most people globally are still susceptible to infection."
Infections Among Youngsters
Data collected by CDC from 1,660,699 people in the US show that the majority of the COVID-19 patients are young. About 671,906 cases were found in the age group of 16 to 44. Health officials from Canada's Ontario said that they were seeing an increase in infections among younger people. In Hamilton, officials have told that 40 percent of new cases were in their 20's. In Toronto, almost 20 percent of all confirmed cases were under 30.
Vaccine: Not So Soon
There is an unprecedented global effort in developing a vaccine to protect against COVID-19 infection. However, it will still take 12-18 more months, say health experts.
To date, the fastest vaccine to be developed is the mumps vaccine which took four years to be available widely. More than 50 years have passed after that feat. There are many candidates out there such as China's CanSino Biologics vaccine and the one by Moderna. These candidates should pass the phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials, and then take regulatory approval and later proceed for large-scale manufacturing.
Potential Second Wave
Reopening economies would bring something called "quarantine fatigue" a contributing factor to the second wave of coronavirus infections.
Also, there are questions about the longevity of immunity in the recovered COVID-19 patients, yet another factor pointing at a second wave. Another wave could prove to be deadlier than the first, warned Dr. Andrea Ammon, Director, European Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She cited statistics that show that coronavirus has infected 2 to 14 percent of the European population, meaning that the remaining 86 percent lack immunity.