Two Years After the Covid-19 Pandemic: Still Isolation and Innovation11.01.2022
Two years ago, an unknown virus sparked a global crisis that engulfed the world. This unprecedented global crisis has reshaped our lives and greatly expanded our scientific knowledge.
The prevailing scientific advice at the time was that handwashing was essential to stop the spread of Covid-19.
People were advised by health authorities not to touch their face with dirty hands. They also shared tips on how to apply soap. In many countries, hand sanitizers have become commonplace.
However, scientists began to see real-world examples of how the virus spread — in a church choir practice, on a bus, or across a restaurant — and it became clear that the disease was mostly transmitted by the air. The virus travels in particles, which we release when we breathe, especially when we shout, speak or sing.
These aerosols can drift and float in the air for long periods of time in a poorly ventilated area, increasing the risk of infection.
However, the public is often unaware of the importance and necessity for good ventilation to disperse these contaminated cloud — similar to clearing cigarette smoke. “There was an error in communication: scientists weren’t clear enough about ventilation,” Arnaud Fontanet of France’s Scientific Council stated. This body guides government policy.
He told AFP that when scientists talk about protection measures, they must make it clear that ventilation is a component of them.
The discourse about masks has changed dramatically in the past two years as a result of increased awareness of aerosol transmission. Initial recommendations by the World Health Organization and other governments were that masks be only used by patients, caregivers and close family members and not the general public.
Many supporters of generalised mask wear saw it as a way for caregivers to save limited supplies and avoid a shortage. The abrupt policy shift in spring 2020 saw the mask become an indispensable tool in fighting the pandemic. Some areas even made it mandatory.
People have been advised to switch from their simple fabric masks to the superfiltration of surgical masks as more contagious strains emerge. Many scientists now recommend that people wear protective masks such as the FFP2 and N95 in crowds indoors, due to the Omicron variant which is extremely contagious.
Since its inception two years ago, the coronavirus has claimed many millions of lives all over the globe. However, this number would be much higher if there hadn’t been vaccines that were developed in such a short time.
The pandemic proved that new vaccines can be developed against a rare disease and are now being administered worldwide. This was contrary to all expectations. This process used to take 10 times as long in the past.
According to Our World in Data, the University of Oxford, approximately half of the world’s population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 just over a year since the campaign began.
The vaccine rollout confirmed that there were fears of inequalities in the protection against the virus between the rich and the poor. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wants 70% of the world’s population vaccinated by July. He also called for an end in vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations.
In his New Year message, he stated that “If we end injustice, we end the pandemic.”
But there is no magic bullet. Vaccines are extremely effective in protecting against severe forms of Covid-19. They have not prevented people from spreading the virus, so they are less effective in stopping pandemics.
They also lose effectiveness over time. However, they are less effective against Omicron and Delta variants of the coronavirus SARS/CoV-2.
Omicron appears to be milder than other variants. However, rich countries are rushing to launch booster campaigns to protect against infection.
This has raised concerns that wealthy countries will continue to dominate vaccine doses while the virus spreads to poorer nations with less access to protection.
Experts warn that booster shots are only a temporary strategy and it is not known how long they will last. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 expert on pandemics, stressed that vaccines must reach all people in need, and public health measures such as testing, isolation, and masks will continue to be crucial.
COVID19 will be ended by vaccines AND not vaccines only. She tweeted that no single solution was sufficient.