Akeel Rashid

Making ‘non-science’ sense of COVID-19 situation

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The preparation to fight the deadly coronavirus for majority of us – who come from a non-science background – looks something like this: “Shelter-in-place lockdown orders”, “testing”, “contact tracing”, “quarantine measures” and so on. Given that there is no cure and vaccine available to stave off COVID-19 pandemic from growing and suppressing its transmission, governments all over the world are laser-focused on implementing the aforementioned measures. I am considering these measures as the “first-aid kits” which help, in this case, a highly immuned person to minimize the chances of a confrontation with a deadly virus until full medical treatment is made available. Of course, there is no question of undermining the crucial role of these measures, as today our very survival depends on them, wholely and solely. Speaking of which, it is important to present a comprehensible non-science perspective of the situation we are in. This is my attempt in that direction.

How long will the lockdown last?

One thing is crystal clear that the decision to impose shelter-in-place lockdown was not taken by the people enthusiastically, but it was prompted by the coronavirus itself. The lockdown will persist until the authorities have a universal vision on when it is safe to reopen. For now, the lockdown measures are supported by the findings that dangers posed by the coronavirus are invisible as many people have caught the deadly virus from silent carriers. The tendency of the COVID-19 to spread silently doesn’t encourage us to even think of resuming the daily outdoor activities very soon. Just like the time-bound action plan for imposing a lockdown, we need to have a future-oriented action plan for reopening the world.

Puts future in doubt

As the situation with the coronavirus evolves, numerous unforeseen challenges are bound to arise. There are more questions than answers about the situation. The questions on everyone’s lips are: What will happen next? How the future shaped by the coronavirus will play out over the next months? And it is too early to answer such questions unequivocally.

The longer the situation goes on, the more likely it is to shape a new economic and social order. This one event is going to affect all other events. How we choose to react to this situation will have a profound effect on our lives. A whole lot of pondering, something of the sort, is also happening against the backdrop of coronavirus.

What is happening/going to happen to our minds?

Each one of us is leading an abnormal life. No way to dress this up! COVID-19 has stopped our social clocks. The routines that we are following these days are driven by compulsions, rather than by choices. It is so hard to stay productive and positive when our life and death both is at stake. The family members of those who died due to coronavirus couldn’t mourn their dead as they helplessly observed social distancing guidelines. Staying at home is not a luxury for everyone; so many people are finding it hard to feed themselves. Many others suffering from various chronic diseases cannot visit hospitals because the pandemic has put various vital treatments on hold. Suffice it to say that amidst the coronavirus crisis, a mental health crisis is staring us in the face.

A glimmer of hope

As all eyes are fixated on coronavirus vaccine, this excerpt from a Nytimes report “Covid-19 Changed How the World Does Science, Together” brings some hope in this regard: “While political leaders have locked their borders, scientists have been shattering theirs, creating a global collaboration unlike any in history. Never before, researchers say, have so many experts in so many countries focused simultaneously on a single topic and with such urgency. Nearly all other research has ground to a halt.”

Innovators explain how to achieve some degree of normalcy

In the absence of a cure, world needs a long-term quarantine plan to achieve some degree of normalcy in wake of coronavirus pandemic and one has been proposed by Shai Shalev-Shwartz and Amnon Shashua, who are considered one of the smartest innovators in Israel. They have written an article, published by medium.com, titled: “Can we Contain Covid-19 without Locking-down the Economy?”.

In the article, as innovators write, they present an analysis of a risk-based selective quarantine model where the population is divided into low and high-risk groups. “The high-risk group is quarantined until the low-risk group achieves herd-immunity. We tackle the question of whether this model is safe, in the sense that the health system can contain the number of low-risk people that require severe ICU care (such as life support systems).”

They have proposed three models for handling the spread of Covid-19:

1) Risk-based selective Quarantine: Divide the population into two groups, low-risk and high-risk.

2) Containment-based selective quarantine: Find all the positive cases and put them in quarantine.

3) Countrywide (or region-wide) lock-down until the spread of the virus is under control. The lock-down could take anywhere from weeks to months. This is the safest route but does not prevent a “second wave” from occurring.

Those who want to read the full article and make most of it, here is the link https://t.co/mo90wt4n7U?amp=1



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