According to the New York Post, to date, scientists have found 40 different mutations of the coronavirus. In the case of the coronavirus, because it is an RNA virus, it has a high mutation rate. A pathogen’s job is to evade the immune system, create more copies of itself, and spread to other hosts. Its ability to drift from the original strand makes it difficult for vaccines to work and a body’s natural immunity to keep up and prepare. Because it knows how to evade and survive. it has the likelihood of continual outbreaks.
In a recent report, a leading expert on the coronavirus out of Beijing, China coronavirus said she was “very worried” about the second wave of outbreaks. She warned that a surging number of imported cases could trigger another epidemic.
“One of China’s top coronavirus experts has warned that the nation is facing a second outbreak due to the increasing number of infections detected among new arrivals from abroad…” Professor Li Lanjuan, a member of Beijing’s expert team on the virus, said she was “very worried that imported cases could trigger another large-scale epidemic in our country.”
Li warned that a surging number of imported cases could trigger another epidemic. In fact, Guangzhou recently reported a domestic case in relation to an imported case. The man fell ill after having close contact with a woman returning from Turkey. While these numbers do not represent anything extreme by any measure, we’ve all seen just how fast a virus like the novel coronavirus can spread globally.
We’ve already experienced the panic and fear in the masses and the hoarding of toilet paper, but what happens if there is a second wave of the SARS-CoV2 outbreak? Well, that all depends on our willingness to understand the facts about pandemics.
7 Facts You Need To Know About Pandemic Behavior
- A pandemic is not a solitary event. The event accelerates and decelerates and repeats itself. If the conditions are right, there are waves of activity in pandemics.
- Pandemics can cause significant, widespread increases in morbidity and mortality and have disproportionately higher mortality impacts on LMICs (low and middle-income countries).
- Pandemics can cause economic damage through multiple channels, including short-term fiscal shocks and longer-term negative shocks to economic growth.
- Individual behavioral changes, such as fear-induced aversion to workplaces and other public gathering places, are a primary cause of negative shocks to economic growth during pandemics.
- Some pandemic mitigation measures can cause significant social and economic disruption.
- The death toll in a pandemic is generally higher than that in an epidemic.
- In countries with weak institutions and legacies of political instability, pandemics can increase political stresses and tensions. In these contexts, outbreak response measures such as quarantines have sparked violence and tension between states and citizens.
A second wave is something we already experience regularly, however. The flu, for example, lessens over summer months and comes in another “wave” in the fall. We can most likely expect this virus to act in a similar manner, so as you prepare for cold and flu season, you’d also want to prepare for the coronavirus.
The other bit of good news is that even if there’s a dramatic second wave, advancements in medicine and treatments for those who suffer from severe symptoms have improved immensely already. Hopefully, by the time a second wave could potentially impact the globe, there will be even more advancements to help people survive lessening the impact on our society, economy, and the healthcare system.
additionally, those concerns about overburdening our already strained healthcare system with a second wave are legitimate. Scientist Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests the right approach could be the method South Korea used effectively in the first phase: exhaustive testing, separating and isolating the sick, and tracing contacts. If those who are ill can be contained, he suggests, through a massive testing program, augmented by a cellphone alert to those who might be exposed, the transmission of the virus might be interrupted. Moreover, he suggests, those who recover could return to work and help keep society functioning. Of course, the United States has been woefully behind at testing from the outset, so Bedford’s plan would require a real turnabout.
The bottom line is that many experts don’t think this is going to go away completely. It’s in the public, and humans will continue to contract COVID-19 even under the most draconian lockdown conditions. But learning how to deal with it and once it’s no longer new should at least lessen the panic and fears over the unknown. Because this virus is transmitted in the same manner as the cold and the flu, there’s the possibility of second, third, fourth, or an indefinite number of waves.
Johns Hopkins senior scholar Dr. Amesh Adalja said the new coronavirus will likely cause yearly outbreaks, with most of the cases being mild, like the flu and common cold (rhinovirus). “Many people are going to get a mild [coronavirus] illness and it’s going to be more like a flu-like illness for many people but for some, it may be very severe,” he said.
How we respond with healthcare changes so people can get the right treatments, and informing people about prevention, as opposed to scaring the public into their own economic demise, will determine humanity’s outcome with most viral infections.
Think about it: the Spanish flu pandemic is “over” but people are still getting the flu. We now have ways to deal with it (vaccines and anti-viral medicines) and help those who get sick. Because of that, fears of the flu are minimal.
Realistically, this coronavirus is most likely another virus that humans will have to deal with and while it might be hard to come to terms with that right now when tensions are high and people are locked down to prevent the spread, doctors say that’s the truth of the matter. We’re humans and we get sick.
That said, continue to do the right thing and avoid spreading this virus. It is having a much bigger impact on our older populations, and we should all do our part to mitigate the spread.