Dubai – Despite the global panic surrounding the spread of coronavirus as cases and deaths continue to jump in the European Union (EU) and the United States, there is some positive news on potential vaccines, promising recovery rates and people coming closer together.
By Arthur Blok |
More than 470,000 people have been confirmed as infected by the disease, which has killed nearly 22,000 since December, but there is some hope on the horizon. Almost 115,000 people have recovered worldwide. The recovery rate of Covid-19 is over 95%. In comparison, every year an estimated 290,000 to 650,000 people die in the world due to complications from seasonal influenza (flu) viruses. This figure corresponds to 795 to 1,781 deaths per day due to the seasonal flu.
From the current active corona-cases (almost 335.000 people), 96% have very mild symptoms, while just 4% are in a serious or critical condition. A few days ago the World Health Organisation declared that in mainland China new coronavirus cases have dropped. In the past week less than 50 new cases were confirmed by officials. In South Korea and Italy, two of the world’s other hotspots, new cases are also declining.
Dutch scientific breakthrough
Just before the weekend a team of ten scientific researchers from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and Utrecht University said they have discovered an antibody capable of fending off an infection by the Covid-19 variant of coronavirus. The discovery could lead to an antiviral medication, and the ability for people to test themselves at home for the presence of the virus.
The researchers claim the antibody they found ‘neutralizes’ the virus, and ‘offers the potential to prevent and/or treat COVID-19, and possibly also other future emerging diseases caused by viruses from the Sarbecovirus subgenus.’ The discovery will not necessarily lead to a vaccine, but rather to a new medicine that could be used to treat those infected and which could be developed far faster than a vaccine. The researchers are currently looking to get a pharmaceutical company on board.
Decline in air pollution
In another development scientists claim that literally thousands of lives have been saved in China as a result of reduced air pollution. Two months of pollution reduction ‘likely has saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China’, Earth Systems Professor Marshal Burke from Stanford University claims on a popular scientific blog.
Burke emphasizes that his calculations are conservative. He assumed no additional deaths for people between the ages of 5 and 70. He tested his prediction with a more conservative mortality calculation and still emerged with reduced deaths 1,400 kids and 51,700 elderly. “Even under these more conservative assumptions, the lives saved due to the pollution reductions are roughly 20x the number of lives that have been directly lost to the virus”, the professor added.
Recently NASA published striking satellite images of the massive reduction in air pollution (specifically, NO2) over China resulting from the economic slow-down in that country following its aggressive response to the recent Coronavirus. Satellite images from the European Space Agency and NASA show a similar dramatic reduction in the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere over the EU in particular in Italy. Scientists do warn that the improved air quality around the world isn’t likely to remain for the long term. Things will likely ‘return to normal levels’ once industrial production picks up again.
Finally, the coronavirus is a stark reminder that, for good or bad, we are all part of one global community. Only as we work together that we can defeat the coronavirus and solve the many other environmental issues which have become very apparent over the last couple of decades. All over the world people have shown their gratitude to health personnel on the coronavirus frontline by applauding from their windows, and balconies. The nationwide events were coordinated in the locked-down countries through social media. Let this be the beginning of us showing more respect toward one other as we bring our minds and energy together in a positive way to make the world a better place.
*Arthur Blok is the Executive Editor-in-chief of The Levant News.