Photo: PAOLA MAFLA / AFP / Getty Images
The covid-19, which has infected more than 280 million people and has caused 5.4 million deaths, meet two years with record numbers of new infections, but a stabilization of daily deaths, raising hopes that the Omicron variant will be much less lethal.
The December 31, 2019, the Chinese authorities notified the existence of twenty cases of pneumonia linked to a new and by then unknown virus in Wuhan city, on the banks of the Yangtze.
“We had little information then, but we did have enough experience to understand that it was a serious situation,” he said. the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at his press conference this week.
The WHO then launched its response system with which it declared the international health emergency on January 30, even if the first case of the new disease outside of China had already been detected on January 13 in Thailand.
The February 11, 2020, the WHO baptized this disease as covid-19 (acronym in English for “coronavirus disease 2019”) and a month later, the March 11, officially declared a pandemic.
Effective but not foolproof vaccines
They were the first moments of a health crisis that in 2021 has had the powerful weapon of lVaccines, which have reduced severe cases and deaths, reopening many companies and stabilizing their economies, even if they have not achieved the desired end of covid-19.
The coronavirus has known how to evolve into variants such as the delta or the Omicron that are more contagious and that vaccines cannot neutralize.
This evolution of the virus, facilitated by the unequal distribution of vaccines, has caused that this second year, although it has not been marked by so many confinements or massive cancellations of events, it has had official numbers of infections and deaths greater even than those of 2020 .
Of the 280 million cases of covid-19 confirmed since the end of 2019, more than two-thirds (195 million) were detected in 2021, and the number of deaths from the disease this year almost doubled that of the previous year (3.5 million in 2021 , 1.9 million in 2020).
The current number of infections is also the highest since the start of the pandemic, Due to the higher transmission capacity of the Omicron variant, and on the 29th the barrier of one million daily global infections was already surpassed for the first time, although the positive data is that deaths do not appear to increase in the current wave.
Figures aside, science has managed to respond to the pandemic by developing in record time not only vaccines against covid-19, but also treatments especially indicated for severe patients, with corticosteroids, monoclonal antibodies or antagonists of interleukin 6 receptors.
When politics makes science difficult
“Science responded to the pandemic, but very often politics got in the way of solidarity andad ”, lamented Tedros as he reviewed the 24 months of the pandemic, recalling the many obstacles that the fight against the coronavirus has faced.
“Populism, nationalism and the hoarding of masks, treatments, tests and vaccines in some countries created the ideal breeding ground for the emergence of new variants,” denounced the Ethiopian expert.
This has been joined by “misinformation, often spread by too few people, who have been a constant distraction, damaging science and trust in the tools that can save lives ”.
Movements such as anti-vaccines “have raised doubts that now translate into a disproportionate number of unvaccinated deathsTedros assured.
After two years of a pandemic that has changed our social practices, which has caused serious economic crises and which has shown humanity’s lack of preparation for its great threats, a third year begins in which the WHO trusts that it has already overcome the acute phase of the disease, although he admits that it is difficult for it to disappear completely.
For this, it is essential that the current “Omicron wave” descends in cases as quickly as it has risen. Something that seems possible considering the downward curves of infections and hospitalizations that are already glimpsed in the countries that first suffered the current wave, such as South Africa or UKAlthough the WHO is prudent and prefers to start 2022 with calls for caution.
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