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Medicine has improved

Medicine has improved
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This is another bit of good news—very good news, in fact. Today’s medical and scientific advancements mean that we are much better prepared to develop treatments against pathogens both old and new. “Coronaviruses have been studied by scientists for over 50 years,” Yager explains. “Extensive knowledge of the genome, structure, and infection cycle of related coronaviruses means that scientists are equipped to identify targets for antiviral drugs and proceed with the development of vaccine strategies.”

It spreads more easily than Ebola among the wider population

It spreads more easily than Ebola among the wider population
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In 2013 and 2014, the Ebola virus spread in different parts of Africa, including Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. But Ebola and COVID-19 are not really comparable because they spread differently, notes Dr Brian Fink, an epidemiologist and professor of population health. “Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, while COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets,” he says. “Recent evidence suggests those droplets can survive on surfaces for days and in the air perhaps for hours.”

However, the risk of exposure outside Africa was virtually zero unless you were a health-care provider taking care of a patient. “By simply isolating and treating those patients, we could pretty much eliminate any potential threat for community spread,” Fink adds. “That is difficult to do with flu or COVID-19 outside of the social-distancing measures that are currently in place but are not uniform around the country.”

The world has never shut down like this

The world has never shut down like this
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Quite simply, no other viral outbreak or pandemic has ever shut down the world like this one. People are working from home, schools are closed, professional sports have been cancelled, and the theatres and cinemas are empty. Partially because of the subsequent economic devastation, there’s been some pushback. “No virus has faced the level of denial that COVID-19 has faced,” says Dr Faheem Younus, the chief of infectious diseases at large metropolitan hospital. “Think about it this way: India, a country of 1.3 billion people with less than 600 documented cases, has decided to go for a nationwide lockdown for the next three weeks. At the same time, the United States, a country of 320 million people with over 60,000 active cases, still lacks a unified national approach towards shutdowns or lockdowns.”

How quickly we’re working on vaccines and medications

How quickly we’re working on vaccines and medications
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Another difference between the coronavirus and previous pandemics is how quickly treatment medications and vaccines are being developed. “I have never seen it before in my life,” Dr Younus says. “Phase 1 trials for the novel coronavirus vaccine started within three months; this is unprecedented.” If you think about it in terms of the response to SARS and MERS, two viruses that have caused major outbreaks over the past 20 years, the difference is stark. We don’t have a vaccine for either of those yet, but hopefully we’ll have one for COVID-19 in the coming months and this crisis will soon be a distant memory.

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Source: RD.com

 

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