The End of the Pandemic

For the last couple of weeks, I have been making the claim to my friends that the Chinese SARS-CoV-19 virus pandemic will be over by June 2021. I predict that by the end of 2020, there will be at least one safe and effective vaccine available in sufficient quantities to drive down the infection rate to the point that the virus is essentially eliminated.

Predictions are easy to make. Like calling spirits from the vasty deeps, anyone can do it, as Hotspur pointed out to Glendower.

GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man,
But will they come when you do call for them?
Shakespeare. Henry IV, Part 1.

Astrologers make predictions all the time. But are they accurate? It’s a crapshoot and every now and then, given sufficient number of astrologers making a huge variety of random predictions, some are bound to hit some target by chance. They really don’t have anything to lose.

Neither do I have anything to lose in my prediction about Covid-19. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking that motivates me. But there’re some faint glimmers of hope on the horizon.

The BBC reports that there are dozens of candidate vaccines in the works. (Click on the image on the left to read the news item.) The BBC report is about the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine. A more informative item was published today at the Oxford University website. Quote:

The vaccine [in phase I/II trials] provoked a T cell response within 14 days of vaccination (white blood cells that can attack cells infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus), and an antibody response within 28 days (antibodies are able to neutralise the virus so that it cannot infect cells when initially contracted).

… Oxford and AstraZeneca are collaborating with clinical partners around the world as part of a global clinical programme to trial the Oxford vaccine. The global programme is made up of a Phase III trial in the US enrolling 30,000 patients, a paediatric study, as well as Phase III trials in low-to-middle income countries including Brazil and South Africa which are already underway.

AstraZeneca remain committed to fulfilling their commitment for broad and equitable access to the vaccine, should late-stage clinical trials prove successful. So far, commitments to supply more than 2 billion doses of the vaccine have been agreed with the UK, US, Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and Serum Institute of India.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Today’s results are extremely encouraging, taking us one step closer to finding a successful vaccine to protect millions in the UK and across the world. Backed by £84 million Government investment for the vaccine’s development and manufacture, the agility and speed with which the University of Oxford have been working is outstanding. I am very proud of what they have achieved so far.”

The time for vaccine and treatment discovery for various maladies has been steadily decreasing. This is the predictable result of technological advances. Technology itself speeds up the discovery of technology. New discoveries — the flow of innovations — is a direct function of the stock of technology and the number of researchers engaged in it. There’s a positive feedback loop. The time between substantial innovations has been steadily decreasing. Here’s a graphic that illustrates the trend. “How long did it take to develop treatment for contagious diseases throughout history?”

Because of the pandemic, I was forced to delay my Jun-Dec 2020 travel plans. Now am I sure that I will hit the road latest by June 2021. See you around!

{Image at the top of the post is my local Costco gas station in Newark DE. There’s hardly any rush ever. Compared to that, the SF Bay area Costco gas stations were a nightmare — at times you’d have to wait in line for upto 10 minutes. I’m glad I’m out of that crazy place. Click on image to embiggen.}



Author: Atanu Dey


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