Author: Jean-Claude Muller, 穆卓Executive Editor at BtoBioInnovation email@example.com
SPECIAL REPORT #20.8
Slowing down coronavirus by “Flattening the Curve”
Unprecedented efforts are currently ongoing to discover novel vaccines and anti-viral agents and, at the same time, to assess the potential of already existing therapies to fight the fast-increasing case counts of Covid-19 infected subjects. In many countries the rise of new cases will be exponential and public healthcare systems will be overwhelmed by increasing demand. The extraordinary Chinese experience of shutting down enormous areas through quarantine seem to have prevented explosive outbreaks in other areas of China. The steps of cancelling large public gatherings, encouraging people to restrict contacts with other and to use well established hygienic measures, such as regular hand washing, are extremely useful to mitigate the damage and the spread of the pandemic. China and South Korea which had their first outbreaks weeks before the Western world appear to have disease transmission under control through aggressive measures. “If you look at the curves of outbreaks, they go big peaks and then come down. What we need to do is flatten that down “said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “That would have less people infected. That would ultimately have less deaths. You do that with trying to interfere with the natural flow of outbreak “said Fauci. On a normal day most heath systems run close to capacity. If a hospital is overwhelmed by a large number of new infected subjects, all patients, including non-infected ones, will have a lower chance of being taken care of and therefore have a lower chance to surviving than they would if the hospital patient’s load was more manageable. On any given date, the appropriate mitigation efforts will reduce the disease caseload and keep the healthcare system close to its working capacity. The following chart explains why the spread of the infection is nearly as important as stopping it. Both curves represent the number of patients over time. The more new infected patients on a given day, the sharper and the higher the curve indicating a fast spreading of the virus. A low and flatter curve indicates that there are fewer diagnosed subjects and that the virus is spreading slower. Keeping the curve flat diminishes the rate of occurrence and allows the finite healthcare resources (the dotted line) to treat all patients at a given hospital.
The rapid current increase in news cases, which WHO now calls a pandemic, in France, Spain, Germany and soon to come in the United States, will show which “flattening” measures will be most effective.
March 11, 2020
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