Evolving COVID-19 Pandemic Presents Variety of Problems
Americans have been dramatically affected by COVID-19 since February. More than seven months later, it’s amazing how much we still don’t know about the virus.
Among the continuing mysteries are how long it will last? And whether it will become a “seasonal” virus. Plus if and when an effective vaccine will be developed for it.
We also don’t know why it affects some people so severely while others remain asymptomatic.
Or how necessary facemasks and social distancing are for curtailing the spread of this deadly virus.
Virus Continues Taking Its Toll
One thing we do know for sure is that people are suffering.
There have now been 6.8 million confirmed cases in America. The actual number is probably much higher. Many asymptomatic people were never tested.
More than 200,000 Americans have died as a result of their infections. States hardest hit include California, Texas and Florida. As well as New York and New Jersey.
The virus has shut down places of work, adding to the unemployment ranks. Food insecurity is growing as a result of job losses and supply chain disruptions.
‘Never Been This Tragic’
Rosanna Robbins is director of food access and capacity at City Harvest. It’s New York City’s largest food rescue group. Here’s what she says.
“It’s never been this tragic for such a sustained period of time. Since the virus hit, the numbers of people in line at food pantries and soup kitchens skyrocketed. And it’s not going down.
“And so I think for us it’s just adjusting to the fact that we expect there to be a real need for free food. For a very long time to come.”
Social distancing has complicated food distribution efforts. Many older volunteers have stepped away due to health concerns.
Should Closed Schools Open?
And then there is the issue of whether schools should re-open their doors. Many have, while others continue distance learning for students.
Some research shows that keeping schools closed will cost the U.S. economy between $14 trillion and $28 trillion.
The multi-country economic study predicts this. Current kindergarten through 12th grade students will end up earning 3 percent less than if they’d learned in-school rather than remotely.
Two of the economists wrote this in the report. “The worldwide school closures in 2020 led to losses in learning that will not easily be made up for. Even if schools quickly return to their prior performance levels.
“These losses will have lasting economic impacts. Both on the affected students and on each nation unless they are effectively remediated.”
A Future Seasonal Virus
Will COVID-19 become a seasonal virus? A new study published by Frontiers in Public Health indicates it will. But not until herd immunity is achieved.
For now, the study’s authors say this. It will “continue to circulate across the seasons.” But eventually it will become seasonal in countries with temperate climates.
Dr. Hassan Zaraket is with the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. Here’s what he says.
“COVID-19 is here to stay. And it will continue to cause outbreaks year-round until herd immunity is achieved. Therefore, the public will need to learn to live with it. And continue practicing the best prevention measures.”
Transmission Rate May Drop
The scientific community is not sure why some respiratory viruses are seasonal. Contributing factors might be colder outdoor temperatures and lower humidity.
Both allow viruses to linger in the air and on surfaces.
So far, the virus has proven to be different from seasonal viruses. For one, it has a higher rate of transmission.
The study’s authors predict the transmission rate will drop. But only when herd immunity is attained through natural infections and vaccinations.
Only time will tell if the study’s findings prove correct. In the meantime, the key is to limit the spread as much as possible.
Vaccines Are in the Works
Vaccines are a controversial subject. Everyone must decide for themselves whether a vaccine is right for them. But either way I want to help keep you up to date with the progress on a COVID-19 vaccine.
Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates recently predicted this. Two or three companies will seek approval for a coronavirus vaccine by December or January.
He also predicted that if a company seeks approval for a vaccine prior to the November 3 election, it will be Pfizer. President Donald Trump has hinted at a vaccine by then. His Operation Warp Speed is an effort to do just that.
The Gates Foundation has provided grants to Pfizer for the development of various vaccines in recent years.
CDC Director Touts Masks Over Vaccine
So far, Pfizer has invested $1.5 billion for the potential vaccine’s development. The group is reportedly ready to distribute hundreds of thousands of doses. That’s if its vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Pfizer is currently seeking approval to expand its late-stage trials. From 30,000 participants to 44,000.
Once again, politics raises its ugly head. Some accuse the Trump Administration of trying to deliver a vaccine prior to November 3 to improve his re-election chances. Others accuse drug makers of delaying a vaccine to hurt Trump’s chances.
Dr. Robert Redfield is director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He recently said a disposable surgical mask is “more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”
My hopes and prayers are that you stay safe. Please take whatever precautions you see fit to make that happen during this pandemic.