Having started blogging about coronavirus Covid-19, AKA SARS CoV-2, I suppose I should continue to log what’s happening in my mental neck of the woods.
The lock-down announced on Monday night was the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing contact between people, with the avowed aims of building capacity into the NHS to cope with the peak of the infection, now estimated to be just over two weeks away, while saving lives. I suspect some further tightening of the lock-down will be necessary in a few days time. Mortality of 20,000 is a figure which has been mentioned.
The curves, for confirmed cases and for deaths, continue to be exponential, that is the rates of both are accelerating, rather than going up in straight lines. This is normal in any epidemic. They will rise to maxima, flatten off, and then decline, as the numbers in the community who have had the disease and recover build up immunity in the form of antibodies in their blood. In most epidemics, and I have no reason to believe Covid-19 is any different from other coronaviruses which are better known (such as SARS and MERS), such individuals should not suffer recurrences of the disease, unless their systems are exposed to exceptional viral loads, such as our front-line medical and nursing staff might encounter. I hope they don’t. When a sufficient number in the community have such immunity, the rates of transmission start to diminish, although they don’t disappear completely.
At that point we will need a vaccine, and with the worldwide effort devoted to that purpose, I am sure we will have one, maybe in a year or so.
But society has changed so much in the last few weeks; UK and world economies have changed so much, that I think the world which will emerge post-Covid-19 will not be the one we know; the one we’ve always known.
Scientists, doctors and science fiction writers have been telling us for years what a global pandemic might do to us; to our bodies and to our societies. Sadly, we’re now beginning to see the dangers for ourselves.
And what will happen next time? I’ve said before that the thing we learn from history is that we don’t. I don’t have much faith in governments and politicians to pull us unscathed out of the next one. So far, they’ve failed us on climate change, on pollution, on antibiotic resistance, on famine relief, gun control, wars and on social injustice, to name but a few.