A year has gone by since the world started suffering from and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all efforts, despite lockdowns and frantic search for vaccines we now seem to be back to square one.

    The virus is mutating and the mutations are spreading uncontrollably. Mutations can be more contagious and able to sidestep vaccines. In many countries the damage done by aggressive new variants seems to wipe out progress made by vaccination.

    Look at the case of Italy: as of February 20th, because of rising infections, the entire country could be sliding back into orange alert with the consequence of a stricter lockdown.

    Francesco Menichetti, head of infective diseases at a hospital in Pisa, says: The British variant is already present in one third of the cases and it is more aggressive. It is showing up in the provinces of Florence, Pistoia and Pisa. The Brazilian virus is occurring in Siena province, and the South African variant ist showing up in Arezzo.

    He urges nationwide strict tracing of all infections as the only way to prevent a disaster which he calls terremoto, earthquake. He noticed infections are becoming more dangerous, and more young people are badly affected.

     Dangerous mutations seem to compete with vaccinations in many countries:

 

Covid-19 Vaccination Delays Could Bring More Virus Variants, Impede Efforts to End Pandemic. Scientists say high rates of viral spread in a partially immunized population could encourage mutations...

 

    Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, a professor of health policy at City University of New York who leads the research effort for PHICOR, a public health research group, said that coronaviruses have relatively high mutation rates and that it is likely that new variants of the virus will continue to emerge. “The question will be how different might these variants be,” he said. If a variant of the virus stops responding to the vaccine, “it will then be a matter of determining whether and when new vaccines will need to be produced.

    Developing new vaccines and making them available on a mass scale takes time even under conditions of top urgency, as we have learned over the past twelve months.

    Let us be honest with ourselves:  our prospects for dealing with the pandemic are not encouraging. At present, no one can credibly promise that herd immunity will be attained to end the pandemic. Mutations, shortage of effective vaccines in sufficient quantities, and the resistance of millions of no-vax people are the main obstacles, compounded by excessive cost, shortcomings and technical problems of some vaccines.

    Time has come to fathom the depth of our global crisis. We must face the possibility that for a very long time lockdowns will be the new normal. No more socializing, no more travel, less or no dating. Virtual schooling. No more restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels. Entire sectors of the economy to disappear. No more government subsidies to suffering sectors and their laid-off staff.

    Or, as an alternative, efforts to avoid recurrence of mass hospitalizations and mass burials as experienced in Wuhan and Bergamo in spring 2020.

 

Heinrich von Loesch