The corona virus pandemic may have slowed in many parts of the country due to social distance efforts but have not planned a party, vacation or office trip first. Experts say the virus will not become a thing of the past in the near future.
The second round of the Covid-19 case was “unavoidable” coming down, said the doctor of the national infectious disease, as people increasingly tried to continue ordinary lives and more states eased or lifted orders to stay in their homes.
“I’m almost sure it will come back, because the virus is very contagious and spread globally,” Dr. Anthony Fauci in the webinar Economic Club of Washington webinar earlier this week.
Americans can experience “bad autumn and winter” if the country is not prepared, said Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
This is what we know about the possibility of a second wave of viruses and the reasons behind them.
Why in autumn?
There are many aspects of the virus that remain unknown to scientists but older viruses offer several clues.
People are usually infected by four common coronaviruses which was first identified in the mid 1960s, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And they tend to peak in the winter months.
Greg Poland, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic, said that SARS-CoV-2, the technical name for the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19, is likely to follow that pattern.
If that happens, the second wave of the virus will return right at the start of the flu season. The flu has a a constant threat to Americans and destroy in the last few years. Estimated CDC exists at least 39 million cases of flu in the US and at least 24,000 deaths during the 2019-2020 season.
Poland, director Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, said the combination of the second wave of Covid-19 with the flu season could create “a lot of confusion” because their symptoms overlapped and placed a heavy burden on the health care system.
This is not the first pandemic to come back into force. In 2009, the US experienced a surge of cases H1N1 influenza virus, known as swine flu, in spring. A few months later, the second wave was reported in the fall and winter, said CDC.
“Often, not always … often the second wave of pandemics is worse,” Poland said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic spread in the US until the flu season.
Another example is Influenza pandemic 1918, which killed 50 million people worldwide and around 675,000 Americans. At that time, there was an initial mild spring wave in the US but a deadly second wave struck the country in September.
It seems that the novel coronavirus is likely to continue to spread at least 18 more months. There are several possible scenarios for pandemic travel but the worst of them is the second wave of infections such as the 1918 influenza pandemic, according to a report by Center for Research and Policy on Communicable Diseases at the University of Minnesota.
“This will not stop until it infects 60 to 70 percent of people,” Mike Osterholm, director of CIDRAP, said in an interview with CNN.
“The idea that this will be done immediately is against microbiology.”
Osterholm co-authored the CIDRAP report released Thursday that recommends the US prepare for the worst-case scenario that includes a second major wave of coronavirus infections in fall and winter.
What can be done about the second wave of infection?
Health experts say the coming months will be a good time to prepare for the possibility of a second outbreak of the virus.
Hospitals and clinics must replenish their personal protective equipment and testing supplies. People should try to be healthier if possible, continue to use face masks for now and stay together until no more than 10 people, some experts told CNN.
When cities are reopened, local officials must make plans to immediately re-issue residence orders or strict social distancing measures in the future if needed, Poland said
Health officials across the country must continue to focus on expanding corona virus testing, contact tracing and treatment, said Dr. Helen Boucher, head of the geographical medicine and infectious diseases division at Tufts University Medical Center.
“We hope we will have more tools in our toolbox, maybe we will have some treatments for Covid-19 at that time, maybe we will have better diagnostics,” Boucher said.
The Trump administration estimates the vaccine is only 12 to 18 months away some leaders in the field say that timeline can be too fast.
Improving the way healthcare workers deal with the coronavirus pandemic will be key, Boucher said, so that the country is “ready as we can” when it is time to deal with the coronavirus and flu outbreaks.
While most experts believe that people who have recovered from the virus will have some sort of immunity, Poland says it is not clear how strong the immunity is, how long it will last and the accuracy of the antibody test is inconsistent.
“We put a lot of hope on that but we don’t have an answer yet,” Poland said. “(The virus) is only 16 weeks old so there are many things that we don’t know about.”
That experimental anti-viral drug remdesivir was approved on Friday by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat Covid-19 patients who were hospitalized in severe conditions.
The drug, which is the first official treatment for Covid-19, is far from drugs, according to a government-funded study, but patients who took it recovered faster than patients who did not.
“We have work to do. We are looking for other therapies. This trial will continue,” Dr. Andre Kalil, the main investigation behind the clinical trial, told CNN Elizabeth Cohen earlier this week.
Has the virus returned to another place?
In recent weeks, Singapore has seen a dramatic surge in coronavirus infections, with thousands of new cases linked clusters in foreign workers’ dormitories.
Singapore was initially praised for its response and its apparent ability to suppress infection within the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic. Then the number of cases exploded in April.
Since March 17, Singapore’s total cases have grown from 266 to more than 17,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
To control the spread, the government has tried to isolate the hostel, test workers and move symptomatic patients to quarantine facilities. This is a daunting task because workers live in narrow conditions that make social distance almost impossible. The government also instituted what he called the “territorial breaker,” a package of restrictions and new rules, combined with harsh penalties.
The semi-autonomous city of China Hongkong had a relatively small number of cases when it saw a spike after easing restrictions in March. Many cases were imported from abroad when Hong Kong residents who left – either to work or study abroad, or to seek safety when the city appeared to be destined for a major outbreak earlier this year – returned, bringing the virus back with them.
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