Coronavirus: Officially 5 million dead worldwide – Scenarios for the future of the pandemic

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The world is preparing to officially exceed the limit of 5 million dead from coronavirus, a number that is definitely higher. After this symbolic limit, there are still questions about its continuation pandemic, the answers to which will largely depend on the vaccine.

The actual number of of the dead of covid-19 worldwide is obviously greater than 5 million. This report is based on official data released by countries. However, the World Health Organization warns that given the high mortality associated with covid-19, the actual death toll could be two or three times higher.

Based on a assessment of The Economist, covid-19 has caused about 17 million deaths so far. “This report seems more credible to me,” said Arno Fontane, an epidemiologist at the Pasteur Institute and a member of the French Scientific Council.

Whatever the actual number of deaths from the new coronavirus is, as reported by the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency, certainly lower than other epidemics: it is estimated that from Spanish flu from 1918 to 1919 50 to 100 million people died, while in a period of 40 years from AIDS more than 36 million people have died.

However, covid-19 “caused many deaths in a short period of time”, comments Jean-Claude Manugera, virologist of the Pasteur Institute. And “this could have been more dramatic if no action had been taken, first by restricting the movement of people and then by vaccination,” Fontane said.

Coronavirus: The two phases in the emergence of new viruses

Generally the emergence of a new virus occurs in two phases, explains Professor Fontane. In the beginning we have the “explosive phase of the epidemic “ when the virus invades a population that has not come in contact with it again. Then follows a stabilization phase Because herd immunity has been achieved, scientists have since said that the virus is endemic.

With covid-19 “it is the first time in the history of pandemics that we make so much effort worldwide to accelerate the transition” from one phase to another, according to Fontane.

The acceleration is due to vaccination: “it allowed the population to be artificially immunized against a virus they did not know about and thus in 18 months what normally lasts three to five years with many more dead.”

For this reason the continuity will depend on its level vaccination in each country and the effectiveness of the vaccines he uses, the epidemiologist predicts: “Undoubtedly we are a few months away from the fact that there will be a layer everywhere. “What is difficult to say is whether this will be thick enough.”

“The virus will continue to circulate. “The goal we have today is not to eliminate it, but to protect it from its serious forms,” ​​Fontane continues.

“The goal is for covid-19 not to drive to either the hospital or the cemetery,” said Manugera.

How will the coronavirus develop in different countries

Experts expect that the pandemic will eventually change: the waves will stop in the industrialized countries, with high vaccination rates, and the epidemic outbreaks will mainly affect the unvaccinated.

“For industrialized countries, I think we are heading for seasonal covid-19 epidemics, which may be more serious than the flu epidemics in the beginning,” Fontane said. in that offered by the disease.

Other countries such as China and India that have strong vaccination capabilities may follow suit.

After all, the countries that had chosen the “zero case” strategy, which ultimately failed due to the transmissibility of the delta strain, have now embarked on a “vaccination race”, Fontane notes. Result: h Australia and the New Zealand vaccination rates in other countries are approaching.

road in Australia

However scenarios for countries with low vaccination coverage, such as its own countries Africa, are more difficult to predict.

The “strong outbreak” of covid-19 in Eastern Europe confirms that without adequate vaccination coverage, populations are exposed to “serious epidemics with an impact on the hospital system,” Fontane said.

But the rise in cases in Western Europe, despite the high rate of vaccination, pushes scientists to be careful.

“There must be no Eurocentric conception: in a pandemic we must think of the whole planet. “And for now the pandemic has not stopped,” warns Manougera.

Will new variants appear?

The main cause of concern is the appearance of young people of coronavirus strains which will be resistant to vaccines.

Today the strain prevails Delta and has almost eliminated the former, such as Alpha, while not allowing others to spread, such as Mi or Lambda.

More than the appearance of distinct strains, scientists expect Delta to mutate and possibly become vaccine-resistant. “Delta is the most widespread executive. So, statistically, another executive may appear from this “, Manougera explains.

The British authorities are already monitoring a Delta subsidiary, AY4.2. However, at present there is no evidence that vaccines are less effective. “It is important that we continue to monitor the gene sequence” of coronavirus strains, Manougera said. This will allow us to “detect the appearance of mutated strains fairly quickly and understand if they are more dangerous, more contagious, if the (vaccine) immunity is still working.”

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