Coronavirus: what are governments doing to alleviate the health crisis?
The challenge we face requires health and political coordination at the international level.
The official declaration of Pandemic by WHO has provided the necessary message to reinforce decisive actions to respond to the proliferation of COVID-19 in all countries, including the hundred or so countries that have not yet acknowledged it.
With the limited means at its disposal, the WHO, its scientists, has been essential in activating the measures underway to limit and slow the spread of the coronavirus, and for others that will have to be taken. Its role, the most it can do, is precisely to alarm: we are facing a serious epidemic that is spreading globally and we still do not have an effective treatment.. It should be noted that the WHO, even at the risk of being described as alarmist, has long since sounded the alarm, from the beginning and, as is often the case, those who did not listen then, who also criticized the measures in the face of other alarms that fortunately did not go further, are those who now accuse it of passivity.
Now, the WHO will also insist on the importance of detecting the maximum number of people affected and the establishment of additional measures.
WHO insists: the virus must continue to be combated with drastic measures.
And that more effort and resources must be devoted to deal with possible new waves. The fact is that the (inevitable) officialization of the pandemic cannot lead to conformism or inaction, as the British seem to consider, nor to discouragement, since the examples of China and South Korea show that this virus can be fought and controlled on the basis of several different strategies. The first, social distancing, including the generalized quarantine in homes that we are now facing, seems to be the most limiting, although there is no doubt that it has been effective in China. Another, the one followed by South Korea, with an aggressive approach from the beginning, aimed at identifying as many positive cases as possible, including the earliest stages, even using mobile units in the search for positives in people with very mild symptoms, in order to isolate them early at home, together with specific measures for the elderly, involving a deployment of resources.
We can think that this system is the most demanding in terms of resources and organization, and the most effective, in the sense that a more accurate picture of the situation is obtained, with a death rate of less than 1%, and that it has managed not to saturate the health system. But the fact is that South Korea, unlike Europe, was prepared to act decisively from the outset.not only because of the proximity of the first outbreak in China, but also because of the experience of dealing with MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) last year, which went largely unnoticed by the general population here. Above all, they have been brave, ignoring the impact of new technologies and social networks, which implies being able to know if your partner or neighbor has the virus when the situation is not perceived as alarming, something that in Europe would have generated serious objections. This is probably more acceptable here now.
Spain: action was taken too late, but it was appropriate.
Thus, as an observer of how things are going in our country, we are acting appropriately, not only in our community, which has gone as far as possible, but also in Spain as a whole, with an aggressive approach now, focused on a strategy of social distancing, which in the short term may be hardened, and which may possibly be progressively complemented by the South Korean strategy. It is clear that not all governments have taken the threat seriously enough, but this is not the case in Spain, where we have already accumulated instructive experiences. Moreover, we have had the advantage of lagging behind Asian countries and Italy and alongside others such as Germany and France, which we have already surpassed in cases and which are already taking similar measures.
It is clear that the current measures are not the result of improvisation but a response which, up to now, has been reasonable and correct in our communityIt is clear that the current measures are not the result of improvisation but a response that, so far, has been reasonable and correct in our community, with the means and skills available, based on scientific knowledge and proportional to a situation that is evolving and will continue to evolve in a matter of a few days, for a few weeks and with an eye also on the different alternatives and waves that are possible in the future.
It has been repeated and it is true, the importance of maintaining the tension and to comply with these days of confinement in our homes.. Let us hope that in this way we can successfully complete this strategy of social distancing, with generalized confinement, probably longer than the legislation on which it is based, perhaps less in some communities with fewer cases, and also thinking that, as soon as possible, we will complement it with other strategies, such as a massive search for those affected, an increasingly selective confinement, and progressively moving on to a more controlled stage in which (hopefully) a significant part of the population will continue to be immunized, and the most serious cases, currently the oldest but not only, will continue to receive the best health care.
Fernando Simón Soria, director since 2012 of the Center for Coordination of Alerts and Health Emergencies of the Ministry of Health, providing new data yesterday morning at a press conference.
On the scales we can recall other favorable data: we know the C coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease; it took less than a week to identify it and a few more days to sequence its genome; we know how to detect it, the available methods are very useful and affordable and also progress is being made in the development of others even faster (a few minutes); it presents mild symptoms in most cases, although with a high mortality rate in very old people or those who carry other health problems; most patients are cured, the virus is relatively easily inactivated by hand washing with soap and water or with hydroalcoholic gels (mixtures of 75º alcohol and glycerin) if soap and water are not available; treatments with diluted bleach or other surface disinfectants, etc. , are affordable.
In addition, there are quite a few clinical trials underway with antivirals and although vaccines will take time, work is already underway with several prototypes, in addition to the scientific research of all kinds that is being carried out and about which, once again, we would like to recall that the provision of resources for R&D activities is essential..
We count above all on the best professionals in healthcare, with a heroic effort and often limited means, which thrills us all, and on initiatives such as that of the students of the medical school, infecting their colleagues in other faculties and schools, organizing themselves spontaneously as reinforcement available and prepared in this phase of reinforced containment, if deemed necessary. The main problem now being faced remains that of limiting or slowing the spread, avoiding the accumulation of severe cases in short periods of time, which would overwhelm the response capacity of our healthcare system. We will soon see a slowdown in the rate of spread.We must also think beyond this wave because, although we are in the midst of the epidemic here, the global epidemic has only just begun.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)