Watching the press conferences of the White House and the pronunciamenti of the blond Clown, recently cured from his negligent optimism, having declared himself as the chief commander in the war against the COVD-19, I almost get confused by the vehemence at which he invents truth in his own eyes. I have also watched the other dishevelled blond who was patronising until very recently the herd immunity theory. Both those leaders elected through their mastery in populism have been caught by the reality of life and a threat that is pernicious because it is still unknown, and its effects appear much more complex than anticipated. Rumors abound in the social media and people are getting more anxious as the pandemic reaches their shores or neighbourhoods. Some can already be discarded as they have now been proven false with events that categorically buries them forever.
The first one was “don’t worry with the spring warmth this disease is going to “miraculously disappear” (a US Presidential Quote). This was based on thoughts that like the influenza viruses it would not survive over 26 degrees centigrade. Unfortunately, the disease seems to be progressing relatively rapidly in tropical countries such as Malaysia and Panama. We will only know later whether the rate is slower in warmer countries. What we unfortunately know at least is that the threat will not disappear with spring in temperate countries. However, it would appear that the virus is killed at temperatures slightly below 60 degrees Celsius. It is therefore recommended that in case of sore throats that may or may not be premonitory signs of the disease, frequent hot drinks, gargling one’s throat with hot liquids and even inhalations (a grand mother’s tool to fight influenza). The latter may be good at an early stage but may be bad when the lungs are severely infected (check with your doctor).
The other is that the only people at risk are the elderly. This is a falsehood introduced by light use of statistics. Of course, older people are more likely to die if they contract COVD-19 but they are also vulnerable to influenza. Not only is their immunity declining due to their advanced age, but they are weakened by other afflictions such as respiratory troubles, cardio-vascular problems, cancers and other underlying health conditions. Moreover, their lungs may have lost elasticity. But more involved statistics that are emerging is that in cases when coronavirus develops harshly, i.e. severe complications involving intensive care, it may strike in persons of many ages. The findings below from the US CDC and the Chinese authorities are revealing. CDC announced recently that 38 percent of the 508 known to be hospitalized in the US were between the ages of 20 and 54.and almost half were under 65. No cases under age 20 necessitated hospitalisation. The US sample must have been taken too early in the epidemy because, in China, a study looking at the symptoms of 2,143 children (under 18) diagnosed with COVID-19 revealed that almost six percent developed very serious illness, while 39 percent became moderately sick.
This is why, in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus “social distancing” has to be strictly enforced especially among millennials and younger people who may feel more confident about their ability to withstand a virus like this.
As we explained above our Anglo=Saxon leaders erred between the theories of laissez faire and herd immunity. The first one, as can unfortunately be seen in Italy, leads to rapid contagion. Even when drastic measures are taken, the train is too fast to be stopped. In the UK the theory of saturated contamination, (letting 60-70 % of the population be infected) prevents a second wave of contamination should the virus reappear. The problem is that the cost of lives is humongous and quickly the government had to change policy and hopefully the epidemy will not be as bad as that of Italy. In any case like all other countries affected, the hospital infrastructure may not be able to cope with the growing volume of serious cases of COVD-19. These facilities are already used for many other serious emergencies and it is only the slack that is available for this extraordinary epidemy. It is not only the ICU (Intense Care Unit) bed capacity that is necessary, but also a sufficient number of respiratory machines and the protective equipment for the medical and infirmary personnel. The world was not prepared for such a punishing disease and the general capacity is insufficient to cope with such an exponential epidemic. This, after China, is in evidence in Europe, particularly in Italy, where the hospitals are overflowed with serious cases and marred by insufficient equipment. Not only have the doctors got to decide who survives and who dies but among doctors and hospital personal already over 3500 people have been infected and some even have died. In the US the hospitals are clamoring for equipment to a Pithian President who says the equipment is there.
We are joining to this text an animation which shows how the virus can rapidly propagate if left unchecked. This is the peak curve that the media are referring to. By adopting measures that limit the speed of propagation, not only is there less contamination but it is spread over a longer period and thus flattens the curve of critical patients. The lower the curve the better chance is there to cope with the most seriously affected patients.
Greece surprisingly is not the laggard in the EU. Not only do we have more doctors per inhabitant than other countries but in terms of ICU we rate better than France (4 units versus 3.25 per 100,000) However we are well behind Germany, the leader with 6 units. We apparently have sufficient respiratory machines and Papastratos is now donating another 50 units. China sent a plane from Beijing, with a cargo weighing about eight tons, that included 550,000 medical masks, surgical masks and protective gear, goggles, gloves and shoe covers. We must be thankful for those gifts. It would be a good gesture if those who hoarded surgical mass would return them to hospitals only keeping the strict minimum as advised by their doctors.
Lastly, not only must we be grateful to our prime minister his government and those involved in the crisis for having kept the numbers so low, but we must now strictly abide by their rulings and follow their confinement restrictions. Lastly, we must adhere as strictly as possible to the hygiene guidelines. Not only are we protecting our selves we are protecting our neighbours. It is this solidarity that will quench this epidemy sooner and will enable the economy to start again and this time all together!