It’s still true: Not all the news about COVID-19 is bad

I believed the pandemic could be over by now. And I’m not alone; there have been subtle fashions predicting a dramatic drop within the variety of infections by the summer time. And whereas there was comprehensible fear in regards to the second wave, re-infection, and the approaching flu season, there was good purpose to consider we’d have the worst of the primary wave effectively behind us.

Now, that each one looks like wishful pondering. Right here we’re, over 9 months into the pandemic, with greater than 224,000 deaths, and greater than 70,000 new instances and 800 deaths day-after-day on this nation as of late October. There are new sizzling spots popping up within the US and everywhere in the world. Herd immunity, whether or not as a result of an infection or vaccination, remains to be many months and even years away — if it occurs in any respect. Regardless of these challenges, we do have some excellent news.

Excellent news about COVID-19: my high 5 checklist

It’s straightforward to overlook some constructive developments about how the struggle in opposition to this pandemic goes, given all of the gloomy information. Right here’s my perspective on 5 necessary ones.

  1. Quickly after its look, researchers recognized the viral explanation for COVID-19, mapped its genome, and tracked its unfold.

For a virus that was unknown lower than a yr in the past, all of this stuff occurred rapidly due to the dedication and cooperation of scientists and public well being officers world wide. Think about how issues could be proper now if we nonetheless didn’t know the reason for this horrible illness, and had no concept the place it was spreading.

  1. We now have good proof that face coverings and bodily distancing work.

Though suggestions to put on masks or different face coverings and to keep up bodily distance had been first made many months in the past, a compelling scientific case to help these suggestions has been printed solely just lately. Research of the effectiveness of those measures (reminiscent of this, this, and this) make it tough to justify not following these suggestions.

  1. There’s rising proof that testing and phone tracing work.

Recognizing that there are formidable challenges and boundaries to widespread implementation of those measures, we’ve seen higher containment in locations the place testing and phone tracing are routine (reminiscent of New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore). And it appears possible that in some unspecified time in the future we’ll have new and higher checks with improved accuracy, extra widespread availability (together with house testing), and sooner turnaround occasions.

  1. The care of sufferers with COVID-19 has improved from the early days of the pandemic.

This may increasingly account for experiences of decrease charges of demise among the many sickest folks with COVID-19. Elevated testing, detection of extra asymptomatic instances, and extra sufferers in youthful age teams may be contributing to enhancing numbers. Nonetheless, supportive care (reminiscent of “proning” sufferers), sure drugs (reminiscent of dexamethasone and the just lately accepted remdesivir), and extra expertise with this an infection have possible improved outcomes general. Importantly, now we have additionally recognized ineffective therapies (reminiscent of hydroxychloroquine — see right here, right here, and right here for research), in order that we will keep away from these which might be pointless and probably dangerous.

  1. Numerous vaccines have been developed, and large-scale trials are on monitor to find out that are secure and efficient.

Once more, this has occurred at unprecedented pace. A number of corporations are engaged on totally different vaccine candidates. Manufacturing of some main candidates is already taking place, and officers are planning to distribute hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses within the coming months. Whereas there isn’t any assure that any of the vaccines within the pipeline shall be profitable, these developments enhance the possibilities that we’ll have an efficient vaccine prior to later.

It’s value emphasizing that there are main considerations in regards to the security of shifting so quick, a scarcity of transparency about trial information, and the potential of politics influencing the method, all of which might promote a reluctance to be vaccinated. Nonetheless, it appears higher that this effort is underneath means, reasonably than having to attend years for a possible vaccine to be accepted.

The underside line

Loads about how our nation has responded to the pandemic might — and will — have gone higher. However issues could be even worse if not for the objects on this checklist.

If all of us do our half within the struggle in opposition to COVID-19, excellent news ought to develop into simpler to search out. Possibly that’s already taking place: some locations have been in a position to include or almost eradicate COVID-19, a minimum of quickly. And bathroom paper is again on the shop cabinets.

Observe me on Twitter @RobShmerling

For extra info on COVID-19, see the Harvard Well being Coronavirus Useful resource Middle.

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