Published on : 11/09/2020 – 05:00Modified : 11/09/2020 – 11:54
In mid-March, after having procrastinated for a long time, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic wave of Covid-19 as a pandemic. Since then, the disease is still far from having disappeared, but it is nevertheless better known and better treated.
When the WHO declared a pandemic state on March 11, 2020, the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus had killed 4,600 people around the world. The epicenter of the disease was still in Asia, Europe was preparing to experience a first wave. Six months later, the toll has grown considerably: more than 900,000 people have died, 28 million have been infected, and the disease is now found on all continents, almost no country has been spared.
If the epidemic dynamic seems to take the form of ebb and flow in different parts of the world, on a planetary scale, the number of contaminations seems to have stabilized for several weeks around 300,000 new cases per day. It is a virtual certainty, the end of the year will still be placed under the sign of Covid-19.
Much progress in six months
That said, while the coronavirus has continued to spread, these past six months have taught us a lot about him. Its means of transmission are now rather well defined, its aerosol contamination capacity is proven. We now know that a person is contagious on average three days before the onset of symptoms and up to 5 days after; that asymptomatics represent about half of the cases.
Above all, the care of Covid-19 patients has also improved since. Of course, no miracle cure exists yet. But, reduced to dealing with the emergency six months ago, medical teams now have less invasive and traumatic therapies for patients. The discovery of the effectiveness of dexamethasone and corticosteroids in limiting the inflammatory effects of the disease have also made it possible to significantly reduce mortality.
Basic research has also made great progress. Antibodies have been identified, the virus is better characterized; three vaccine candidates are in phase 3 of clinical trials even though the AstraZeneca laboratory recently discontinued its as a result of the discovery of side effects in a patient. All these elements point to the possibility of a vaccine in a few months.
Many secrets remain to be discovered
SARS-Cov-2 and Covid-19 nevertheless keep many secrets. What about acquired immunity after a first infection? The first case of second contamination identified a few weeks ago by the University of Hong Kong suggests that this immunity is not sustainable, which would be bad news. What about the seasonality of the epidemic dynamics? Why are some countries seeing their number of contaminations increase sharply without the number of hospitalizations and deaths increasing?
Six months after the declaration of a pandemic, ten months after the discovery of this coronavirus, we are therefore far from having finished with it. Would it only be possible one day or will it take some getting used to living with it? Unfortunately, once again, only time can provide answers.
(Special edition) Covid-19: 6 months of pandemic (Part 1)
(Special edition) Covid-19: 6 months of pandemic (Part 2)
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