Spanish – It is hard to believe that the world has been subjected to COVID-19 for a little over a year after it was first detected in a market in Wuhan, China. That’s why masks, hand sanitizers, and social distancing are far from gone. On the contrary, they are closer to becoming totally everyday objects.
Laboratories and the World Health Organization (WHO) itself indicate that 2021 will be very similar to last year because the virus is far from over. Vaccination operations are fighting against the increase of cases, although the doses do not guarantee permanent immunity. Meanwhile, new mutations appear in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Japan, tripling the number of infections because they are more transmissible than the original strain.
“We will not achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021,” said WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan at a press conference.
The official explains that beyond the vaccination campaigns initiated in many countries, “for the rest of this year,” healthcare and distancing must be maintained.
On their part, Moderna, manufacturer of one of the vaccines, informed that its two doses offer immunity at least one per year. That is, it is not guaranteed to last longer than that.
Tal Zaks, the lab’s medical director, said they are investigating whether adding a third shot might extend protection.
Lockdowns come and go
In April and May, several countries in Europe and Latin America began to come out of lockdowns. France and Belgium put into effect their plans for a gradual exit to reactivate the economy and open the doors to the “new normal.”
Spain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland opened schools and allowed outdoor eating places to reopen, as well as social gatherings. In the United Kingdom, a five-level plan was established that went from walking out to opening some hotels.
Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile allowed public employees to go out to work, and some economic sectors were reactivated.
Although many of the openings remain, the truth is that the case curve rose again in late 2020, forcing governments to return to quarantine. The UK confined more than 44 million people by the end of the year after cases quadrupled in less than a month.
In South America, governments are also watching the virus cautiously, recognizing that returning to confinement would have very high economic costs, more than those of the previous year. They have resorted to imposing curfews without excessively harming the activity of large and small businesses.
It is known that countries all over the world have started their vaccination campaigns, estimating how many people can be vaccinated and who gets the shot first: health workers and those at risk.
But do we know for sure how long protection lasts? The laboratories do not have a definitive answer. They claim that the vaccines are so new that they must resort to observation and evolution of those who have been vaccinated.
Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, told CNN in December that “they don’t know how long immunization lasts.” The reason is the different production processes of each vaccine.
The same note cites as an example of the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer with BioNTech, which have two doses each. The immunity is reached between one week and ten days after the second dose, but it is not known how long the effect lasts.
The laboratories have reported the level of immunity achieved, Pfizer and BioNTech offer 95%, and so does Moderna; AstraZeneca and Oxford offer 70%. But a recent event caused some noise. A Chilean nurse gave positive after injecting the first dose.
This gives an idea of the effectiveness of the doses, which, although it was the first one the nurse received, it becomes a precedent for the manufacturers.
Contagion in animals
The outlook for the next 11 and a half months is clear: the behavior of the virus is unpredictable, even for scientists.
Several gorillas at the San Diego Safari Zoo in California (USA) tested positive for COVID-19, allegedly caught from a caretaker. First recorded infection in large primates.
Lisa Peterson, zoo director, said the gorillas are in confinement until further notice. She explained that they only have congestion and cough, according to EFE.
The number of gorillas now suffering from COVID-19 is unknown, but it was learned that they developed the infection sometime last week.
The news about the virus continues, without being clear when the story that began in China will end.