Friday , May 14 2021

Chris Whitty: society should learn to live with Covid in a way similar to the flu | Chris Whitey

The idea that Covid variants can stop entering the country is not “realistic” and Covid should eventually be treated in a similar way to serious seasonal viruses such as the flu, said Professor Chris Whitty.

Speaking at an online seminar of the Royal Society of Medicine, England’s chief medical adviser said easing Covid restrictions was likely to lead to an increase in the R-number above 1 and the risk of variants winning and spreading.

The more cases are introduced, the faster it will happen. As a result, Whitty said, border policies focus on countries with more or more specific variations than the United Kingdom.

“The United Kingdom is a net exporter [the Kent] Variant B117, so other countries understand that their border measures against us to slow it down. We are a pure importer of other variants that are a little worrying in terms of the vaccine. “This is indeed what drives politics to a great extent when it is rational, with the exception that border policy is not always fully rational,” he said.


What does the “R” number of the coronavirus mean?


R, or “real reproduction number”, is a way of assessing a disease’s ability to spread. It is the average number of people to whom an infected person will transmit the virus. For an R anything above 1, an epidemic will increase exponentially. Anything below 1 and an outbreak will disappear – eventually.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the estimated R for the coronavirus was between 2 and 3 – higher than the value for seasonal flu but lower than for measles. This means that each person will pass it on to two to three people on average, before they either recover or die, and each of these people will pass it on to another two to three others, causing the total number of snowball cases over time. next year. .

However, the play number is not fixed. It depends on the biology of the virus. human behavior, such as social distancing. and the immunity of a population. A country may see regional fluctuations in its R number, depending on local factors such as population density and transport patterns.

Hannah Devlin Correspondent science

Whitty said most experts believed that Covid was not going to leave and should eventually be treated in a similar way to the flu. In a bad year, the flu can kill 20,000 to 25,000 people. “It’s not the flu, it’s a completely different disease, but the point I make is, here is a seasonal, very dangerous disease that kills thousands of people every year and society has chosen a certain way around it,” he said.

While Whitty noted that factors such as variability and population density were important, he warned not to explain how Covid had influenced different countries by focusing on one or two factors, noting that Germany was now facing a difficult situation despite its previous success in Treatment Covid is greatly underestimated in its diagnostic capabilities.

“It’s really a big combination of factors, some of which are under our control, many of which are not. “And more than that is a possibility than I think people are willing to accept.”

Whitty said the new vaccine technologies meant it was easier and faster to modify the vaccines, which would be important in dealing with new Covid variants, and said that two years from now it is possible to have a wide portfolio of vaccines.

He said that at present the main effort of the companies was to increase the supply of vaccines and that there was less capacity to respond to new variants, while it was not clear whether the current vaccines offer a “fair degree” of protection against serious diseases and death, even if produce high levels of neutralizing antibodies.

“All we have to do is find a balance that really holds true [Covid] “At a low level, it minimizes deaths as best we can, but in a way that the population tolerates and does as much elevation as possible with medical countermeasures.”

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