From the virus’s perspective to the way to protect ourselves
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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It was to be expected: That a new SARS-CoV-2 mutant is arising due to the selection pressure upon the virus. We had written about the emergence of mutations in our blog post on a look into the Crystal Ball: https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/a-look-into-the-crystal-ball/
The post’s bottom line: The breeding ground for the emergence of new mutations is provided by the huge numbers of infections. Once a population allows for low infection numbers, the virus is losing ground. This is depending on individual behavior, which in turn may only be relaxed after a sufficiently high immunization rate is achieved – for SARS-CoV-2 this means more than 80 %.
A low vaccination rate will provide a low pressure upon the virus, which may result in variants able to escape the immune response. The only way to avoid this, is to put such a high pressure upon the virus over a very short range of time, that the virus does not have the chance to escape or to infect more people.
Within this time frame, ALL protective measures need to be upheld (distancing of 6 ft., N95-masks, air exchange indoors).
A way to achieve this was published in our blog post on the 2021 strategy: https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/strategy-2021-to-defeat-sars-cov-2/
In short, the strategy is relying on a fast vaccination campaign and a strong country-wide shutdown. This shutdown will have to be in place for four weeks to deprive the virus of the chance to escape the measures.
The current situation in India is giving a dramatic example. Two months ago, the Indian government decided to lift measures. Mass events with hundreds of thousands of participants took place without even the simplest protective measures. At the same time, millions of workers are riding the overcrowded public transportation of the country’s mega-cities. The vaccination campaign is going on at a too slow pace, only 10 % of the population have received a shot yet. The result may be seen on the following graph from the Johns Hopkins University. The exponential growth of infection numbers has resulted in the collapse of the Indian health system.
Over the course of the last months, a new variant (B.1.617) emerged and took over in India. It is considered a ‘variant of concern’, combining two critical mutations that may have impact on humoral and cellular immune responses. The variant has already been found in several countries around the world.
In places with numerous infections, there will be new variants. The more infections, the better the chance of new and more dangerous mutants. Especially worrisome would be the emergence of so-called escape variants that have the capability to infect vaccinated people. This will be a matter of time if there is no massive campaign against new infections.
Hence, this situation is facing Germany as well, and it is time to not just think about a serious four-week shutdown of the country. We had pointed to this since the beginning of 2021. It is time to act.
This is the current situation in Germany:
Last week we had more than 150,000 confirmed new cases. This number is far too high. Politics needs to act. And everyone needs to stick to the protective measures:
N95 masks indoors, at least 6 ft. distancing, airflow across the room. These measures are not too much to be asked for.
We like to summarize central points of some of our previous posts:
If you like to know more about the virus transmission in indoor settings: “Rocket Science: Air to Breathe”, March 19, 2021: https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/rocket-science-air-to-breathe/
Air conditioning and fans need to be installed in a way to guarantee airflow from the inside out. The air needs to be exchanged fully in a regular time frame (multiple times per hour), to reduce infection risks. The only other way is to have a constant airflow across the room, in combination with N95 masks and the keeping of a 6 ft. distance.
The post “Germany: brain lockdown” on March 31, 2021 https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/germany-brain-lockdown/ is describing how schools, after one pandemic year, are still incapable of reducing infection risks. There is a lack of creativity dealing with a situation that cannot be solved by bureaucracy. Neither hygiene, nor distancing, air exchange, masks, nor digitalization of lessons are being followed up. In German schools, it is business as usual, as before the pandemic.
Recent news in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (April 27, 2021) was that the city of Munich had stopped a vaccination campaign for employees of childcare facilities and for elementary school teachers. Of the 31,000 offers, only about 9800 (32 %) were accepted. We are speechless.
Instead of scientifically sound measures, politics is relying on populism. Even the few sensible measures were watered down in weeklong discussion.
Instead of virologists and epidemiologists, politicians prefer to listen to the trade associations. This has been made clear in the recent federal ‘emergency break’, ratified by the Federal Parliament and the Federal Council.
“The countrywide emergency break”, April 13, 2021: https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/germany-federal-government-issues-emergency-break/ This post is dealing with the German economy, fighting against a proper application of occupational health to protect their employees, thus putting all the pressure upon the private households.
“Germany in the land of fairy tales”, April 21, 2021 is describing the Secretary of Commerce’s straying in the enchanted forest, resulting in a voluntary nature of employees’ health protection for businesses. This again is putting the burden upon the employees. https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/germany-in-the-land-of-fairy-tales/
“Germany: populism and pandemics in a demoracy” on March 29, 2021 is pointing to a long-term strategy to counter the erratic behavior of the populists in German politics. Protecting the populace from harm cannot be achieved by populism and opportunism. https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/germany-populism-and-pandemic-in-a-democracy/
Our post “PRESSURE COOKER” on March 2, 2021 is dealing with the state governors’ wish to prematurely lift all measures without any preparations, owing to an election year’s logic. In consequence, the people have to face the music, with increasing infections, long term damage, and deaths.
“The chancellor and the non-cooperative 16” on November 17, 2020 is describing the chancellor’s predicament, having to face the unwillingness of the governors to collectively fight the pandemic. Unfortunately, the situation has not changed today. The state governors do not understand the pandemic’s dynamic. The people by and large are left alone. Protective measures have been watered down by lobbyism. Where is the governors’ oath of office? https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/the-chancellor-and-the-16-non-cooperative-ones/
Mutations are emerging regularly, especially with a lot of infections, a situation Germany is facing momentarily. The protective measures do have some impact, but obviously, they do not suffice. Germany will see other mutants prevailing. It is a matter of time. There is a lot of room for improvement in politics. Education on all levels would make sense. People like to learn. Offer this, please! It will help to fight the fatigue. People suffer from fatigue if they have to adhere to measures, they feel are meaningless.
Key to solving this problem is education, today, tomorrow and for the future.
What are you and we waiting for? There’s work to be done.
Yours, Sabine and Jörg
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.
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This is post No. 172. To our delight our blog is receiving a lot of acceptance, we love to share our know-how. Single posts and contents are being adopted by others, also in media. We have learned how to correctly make a citation; this we would wish from others in return as well. Please feel free to share the link – it is an informative tool to fight this pandemic.
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