Experts doubtful COVID-2019 can be contained

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Experts doubtful COVID-2019 spread can be stopped

Experts doubtful whether COVID-2019 spread can be stopped, now that the World Health Organisation has confirmed that the risk of COVID-2019 spreading worldwide is ‘very high’.

Many experts are even convinced that we have now passed the containment phase. ‘This will not be contained, this has not been contained’, said Bogoch, infectious disease physician at Toronto General.

There has been tremendous effort by public health officials in order to slow down the spread of COVID-2019. Still, on Friday, WHO director Tedros Ghebreyesus that the WHO increased their risk levels to very high.

COVID-2019, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, has resulted in more than 3000 deaths worldwide. Others, such as Michael Ryan, suggest adopting new approaches. Ryan, who is the director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, advocates mitigation. Mitigation starts with understanding that we cannot stop the spread of the virus. ‘To accept that mitigation is the only option is to accept that the virus cannot be stopped’, said Ryan.

Current response is not enough

Amesh Adalja, physician and scholar at John Hopkins, says that COVID-2019 has an advantage over its ‘relatives’, SARS and MERS. She confirms that SARS-CoV-2019, which is responsible for COVID-2019, spreads much more efficiently from human to human. This could be a factor that influenced global spread.

Moreover, Adalja stresses how, in the absence of a vaccine, there is a high probability COVID-2019 will become endemic. ‘It’s not containable in the way those viruses were’, she adds, regarding SARS and MERS.

But containment was almost never a viable strategy. According to Bogoch, even the drastic Chinese measures, if implemented earlier, would still buy us only a few weeks.

Virologist Ian Mackay highlights how containment vs mitigation strategies will be decided country by country. ‘Somewhere like South Korea, for example, is still tracking hard, but they must be looking down the barrel of having to switch from trying to contain this to trying to mitigate the damage it can cause.’

Still, Adlja remarks on a positive note: ‘The vast majority of cases are going to be mild. This isn’t something that’s going to be cataclysmic.’ We might end up living with the new coronavirus, after all.