The Delta Force and fact-based political decisions

Incidences rates are climbing, masks are falling!

October 16, 2021

Started in February 2020, the SAJO blog is providing a thread through the pandemic with up-to-date information and suggestions around SARS-CoV-2.

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In Hamburg, Germany, a study was undertaken that reviewed a massive SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in a school building. There, one teacher had infected 20 pupils. How? She wore a community mask, while the children were not wearing masks at all. In the end, these kids infected more than 200 other persons. These are avoidable situations. And now, in German schools the mask mandate will be dropped. We are dumbfounded.

The argument that children are severely affected by wearing a face mask, is plain wrong. We are observing many kids wearing masks quite naturally. The parents seem to be the problem, when all the time telling their children how awful it is to wear such an uncomfortable mask, because it is being mandated. This reminds us of the German vaccination campaigns that always show a toddler in tears. When taking a look at other countries, one sees no tears. In most cases you do not even feel the needle. Parents could show that.

And if a former WHO director now is demanding to exempt children from masking, arguing that children do not get as sick as adults, it is just an opinion by a former expert. Some kids are dying from COVID-19.

Even more important is the far distribution of this virus. We love to repeat the following fact, which unfortunately is being communicated far too rarely: The more infections, the bigger the risk of new variants emerging. The Delta variant is no longer comparable to the original virus.

Thus, it is imperative to support those countries with vaccines, who still are lacking a broad immunization. Even the first shot is providing a certain amount of protection. Hence, we do not understand the discussion about booster shots in wealthy nations. This is understandable for high-risk patients, but not for a whole age group. A first shot is more important than a third one. For the same reasons as given above.

Here is another repetition: The viral life cycle is spanning merely hours. The human generation time is around 20-30 years, producing children who also carry mutations; they are quite different from their parents. This is a key driver of evolution. However, within these 20 years, a virus may have undergone more than 20,000 generations. Hence, we are not talking of a viral grandpa anymore.

A virus infecting you today, the day after tomorrow will give its “greatgreatgrandchildren” to the next person. Maybe now you may understand the power of viral evolution.

It has given us the Delta variant, the globally dominating version of this virus, at the moment. Why is that? It had acquired several characteristics which enabled it to spread more efficiently. Variants accumulating mutations conferring selective advantages are coming in many flavors. These are ranging from a shorter generation time to better adhesion to host cells, or the escape from immune responses, a better distribution by aerosols, a higher production of progeny, or simply a longer survival time in dry conditions. Everything is on the table.

With this coronavirus, we are experiencing a time-lapse evolution. Unfortunately, politics is caught in slow motion.

Cartoon: Oliver Hoogvliet

The Delta Force has landed globally. But you may protect yourself. Distance, face masks, air exchange, all these measures are protecting from infection, while vaccines are protecting from severe disease. All four measures are having their individual side effects. Distancing may isolate socially (but there are digital connections). Masks have to be donned and doffed, while costing money. Air conditioning is loud, may produce an uncomfortable air current, and is costly as well. Vaccines may result in mild side effects such as fever, bone ache, or fatigue, and in extremely rare cases in more severe side effects.

Now ask yourself: What are the “side effects” or consequences of a full-blown infection?

Without new antiviral drugs, we will not defeat this or any future pandemic!

Future pandemics are demanding an array of new drugs. These will take time to develop. Now is the time to start this development. The tiny program set up by the German government of € 150 M is a mere drop in the bucket. This program is funding drugs that are already in clinical phases, exclusively. For two years. https://www.bmbf.de/bmbf/shareddocs/pressemitteilungen/de/2021/09/060921-Arzeneimittel.html

Please don’t wonder at the typo in the link, it is courtesy of the German BMBF (Federal Ministry of EDUCATION and Research)! This is exhibiting a major disregard of education and research. Insofar, a ministry probably should not be led by politicians, way outside of their respective area of expertise. Unfortunately, with this ministry it had been the case in the past for too many decades. The current minister is an educated guest service representative. Let’s hope this will change in the future legislature.

The United States are planning to deal with future threats in an entirely different way. The US government has issued a program that among other things will fund the development of NEW DRUGS. To that end, it intends to spend $ 65.3 billion over the next 7 to 10 years. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/American-Pandemic-Preparedness-Transforming-Our-Capabilities-Final-For-Web.pdf

There is a fear, Germany will retire to a slumber after the COVID-19 crisis yet again. The future government will have to decide on this. Let’s just hope for the best.

Yours, Jörg

This post, I had to create on my own, since Sabine, thanks to her commercial truck driver’s license (up to 40 metric tons) acquired during her time as a student, is thinking of delivering gingerbread to the British on Christmas. Who may be able to point out that a female CEO not only excels scientifically, making her Ph.D. in the U.S., is also proficient in driving a 40-ton lorry (this for the Brits among us)? Her experience is ranging from a tractor to a semitrailer. SAJO truly is extraordinary!

SAJO – for a healthy and better future!

SAJO is consulting all around infectious diseases. We are applying our know-how, that we have acquired in more than 20 years. We do what we can to fight this pandemic.

We thank Oliver Hoogvliet for his wonderful cartoons. It is always a pleasure! ollihoo (https://hoogvliet.de).

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