Saturday, March 25

Will we have a year of ups and downs in COVID?

Will 2022 be a year of ups and downs when it comes to the pandemic?

Before answering this question, let me give you some recent data. The number of new daily infections worldwide in this new wave finally has started to go down.

The highest level, considering seven-day averages, occurred last January 25 with 3.43 new infections. The most recent figure is 2.90 million, which means a 15 percent decline.

In the country with the highest number of infections, U.S, the reduction period is even longer. The highest peak occurred on January 16 with just over 800,000 infections, while the most recent figure is 60 percent below and clearly the trend is downward.

In the case of Mexico the figures are not entirely clear. It seems that the level of infections that is counted is strongly influenced by the availability of tests, which prevents observing a clear trend as there is in other countries.

With this reservation, it can be seen that the highest level of infections (also using seven-day averages) also occurred on January 25, with nearly 50 thousand new infections and we are already 33 percent lower.

Even in Denmark, a country in which the spread of the BA.2 variant of omicron was studied, a downward trend is also observed, since the registered level is about 10 percent lower than that registered a week ago.

It should be emphasized that the data hospitalizations and deaths usually follow the same trend as contagions, but with a two to three week delay.

For this reason, in Mexico we had high levels of deaths this week, despite the apparent change in the trend of infections.

And, it is likely that it will still take a while for the number of deaths to drop. Despite all these factors it is not clear that the pandemic is already on the way to extinction.

The main problem is the risk of other mutations appearing of concern.

The possibility of new variants or even sub variants appearing, such as those that have appeared from ómicron, is greater to the extent that the total volume of infections is still very high. The variants or sub variants derive from “errors” when the virus replicates itself. Most of the new gene sequences that emerge don’t thrive, but some may be more capable of reproducing than the original strain, infecting more people.

To the extent that more “errors” exist, there will be greater chance that one of them will produce a variant that could even eventually elude the immunity produced, either by the vaccines or by the infections of the previous varieties.

Let’s look at a background of how a pandemic ended.

In February 1918 the beginning of the Spanish influenza pandemic is located. It is estimated that it was finished in April 1920, after little more than two years of devastation.

Although the data is not very precise. It is estimated that nearly 500 million people, which represented just over a quarter of the world’s population.

Something equivalent today would be a contagion of almost 2 billion.

Some current estimates are not far from that figure.

At that time, the end of the pandemic occurred due to the immunity derived from the numerous infections, since no vaccine was developed.

For that reason, it was also very high number of deaths, which is estimated to be between 50 to 100 million. To put it in current proportions, it would be equivalent to the covid killing a figure of 200 to 400 million.

To the advantage that today there are vaccines, we must add the disadvantage that current mobility is much higher which triggers infections and mutations much faster.

These two forces: mutations and their spread fast on one side and the increasing vaccination on the other, they can generate ups and downs in the pandemic, such as those that have been observed in recent months.

If a new variant were to emerge in the course of this year, it would not be impossible for us to see another increase in the disease, although probably with less serious effects than those produced by the initial variants and with more ‘weapons’ to deal with them, both with vaccination and with treatments.

Therefore, despite this perspective, it is likely that the economic and social impact of the pandemic may be diluted… of course, as long as the Chinese “zero covid” policy and the confinements that it produces do not generate dislocations and fractures in global supply chains again.

The subject is so relevant that it will have to be addressed in a comprehensive manner soon.