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Winter is coming before the vaccine, with a new tide of infection

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Avatar for Jisan203
Written by   9
1 year ago
Topics: Health

"Winter is coming ... winter is coming ..."

Who doesn't know about this dialogue of the world famous TV series 'Game of Thrones'! For so long, this dialogue has been used to express the fear of the arrival of a deeply dangerous time. But who knew that this dialogue, which is well-known in the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, would gain a new meaning? But that is what is going to happen in reality. Winter is approaching, and experts predict that winter will exacerbate the epidemic.

Due to humidity, heat of the sun, lack of vitamin D and reduced immunity, various viruses and flu-like respiratory diseases appear in winter every year. Now that there is an enemy called coronavirus in the heart of the earth, people around the world may become more sensitive this winter. They may be comparatively more diseased.

People suffer from more diseases in winter;

Klaus Stoher, a Swiss bacteriologist and infectious disease specialist, issued a similar warning. In 2003, under the leadership of a man working for the World Health Organization, another strain of the coronavirus, the SARS virus, was quickly identified. In 2007, he became director of influenza vaccine research at the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG. He retired a year ago.

In a recent telephone interview with Bloomberg, he spoke about the ongoing coronavirus epidemic and the discovery of the vaccine. Through his words, a lot of new information and insights have come up on these two issues. The Bengali translation of his conversation with Bloomberg is highlighted for the readers of Roar Bangla.

Bloomberg: Where do you think this epidemic will go before a possible vaccine arrives?

Stoher: The behavior of this virus will not be much of an exception compared to other respiratory diseases. They will return in the winter.

I think another tide of infection will come, and that will be very serious. 90 percent of the world's population may be affected. If we do not return to a strong lockdown or equal alert, the virus will become more deadly. Winter is coming before the vaccine arrives. During that time the amount of infection will increase further, and preventing its spread will cause various problems. Because people no longer want new restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Klaus Stoher; Image Source: Bloomberg

Bloomberg: When do you think the vaccine will arrive?

Stoher: Countries like Germany may have a significant amount of vaccines available by early next year. And for adults, the vaccine may take four, five or six months to arrive. But countries like Brazil, Argentina or Chile may have different strategies. These countries may never get a single dose of vaccine, but they will have to overcome this danger.

All in all, the whole world will be divided into two parts. One group will have those who have been vaccinated, the other group will have those who have not been vaccinated.

Bloomberg: At a time when vaccines are starting to come in and diseases are spreading, how much do you think global immunity will increase?

Stoher: I think by the middle of next year, a significant portion of the total global population will be producing antibodies. This amount will continue to increase over time. And then comes the third wave of infection. And by the time it's over, I suspect that if the lockdown isn't established, antibodies could be made in 80 percent of the world's people.

Bloomberg: What message do these have for ongoing vaccine research?

Stoher: We are in a deep crisis right now. We must now continue to work on vaccines with all our strength and all-out efforts. On the other hand, I believe that we understand from our common sense that the majority of people in the world will not get the vaccine.

Maybe half a billion doses will be ready by the end of this year or early next year. The world's population is now 7.5 billion. Especially in countries with inadequate infrastructure and those already struggling with huge populations and fragile health care systems, how will they get vaccinated?

According to Stoher, the virus is a lot like wildfire; Image Source: Getty Images

Bloomberg: Several groups, including the World Health Organization, are emphasizing the need to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines. Can't you reduce your worries a bit through this?

Stoher: Sitting without any effort would be a sign of irresponsibility. But no matter what is done, most of the global population will not get the vaccine. The virus will continue to gain momentum, and in two to three years it will infect a large population.

In fact, the vaccine will not end the epidemic. The virus is like a fire that burns all the dry wood to ashes. Only then will this epidemic end. The fire will not stop without infecting the world's most contagious people. Now the question is, what role will the vaccine play?

Bloomberg: You seem quite optimistic that researchers will be able to invent a vaccine. But how do you assess the possibilities and fears in this case?

Stoher: Coronavirus is not a virus that cannot be controlled. Even conventional vaccines can create a gap. Moreover we have different types of methods, such as vector vaccine, mRNA etc. These are very promising.

Underdeveloped infrastructure and healthcare systems can be major barriers to vaccine access;

Whenever a new vaccine has already arrived, its use has gradually increased, and the number of people developing immunity has also increased. If something like this is found again, no matter how rare it may be, it will be identified at the very beginning. However, another issue is that a large number of vaccines will be used at the same time in a very short time. Billions of vaccines may be given in six months to a year. So now the big question before us is whether there will be anything inside the vaccine that will not be able to diagnose during a large-scale safety test without approval.

Many, many people can be infected. If you create resilience in 500 million people, in contrast only one million people are infected, but still a huge population will be in front of you at risk of security. So this is an issue to keep in mind. However, a balance needs to be struck when considering the potential impact of vaccine use against the effects of existing diseases.

Bloomberg: You talked about strategic changes in a few countries. In this case, the government can choose the best possible path?

Stoher: We need to find a way that will help our people achieve long-term medical care goals. Also, since there is no way to completely avoid infection, it remains to be seen how the crisis can be overcome with the least number of deaths. Besides, there is no other way in front of us at the moment. When you have a physical problem, such as breaking your leg while skiing, tearing your knee ligament, there is nothing to worry about. Because as soon as you go to the doctor, he will fix everything. But in this case we do not know any sure way to fix everything.

The World Health Organization is working to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines;

We have to live with this virus, and when we find a way out of this situation, we can look back and say, "Yes, we have done our best to reduce the number of deaths and infections." But we can't expect the ostrich to become a miracle and the virus to disappear.

Bloomberg: You've dealt with a variety of viruses, from SARS to bird flu. Did you learn anything from it that is still relevant today?

Stoher: We've been talking about epidemic planning since 2003. Some countries have taken the initiative to implement those plans and have done so. I believe those who had a good epidemic plan are a few steps ahead of other countries. But even then, there are still many countries that have no plans. My teaching was that you have to have an epidemic plan ready.

One thing that may have become clear is that the countries where the vaccine will be produced will have access to the vaccine during an epidemic. I hope something like this doesn't happen, but I fear something like this is going to happen. Hopefully, much more will be invested in the coming years to prepare for the epidemic, so that the next epidemic can be handled much better than this time.

Stay safe and save lives;

Thanks to everyone for reading my article


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Written by   9
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Topics: Health
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