COVID-19 strategy simplified

Letters to the Editor

COVID-19 strategy simplified

Thursday, March 19, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Many people are misunderstanding how the COVID-19 pandemic is being approached in Jamaica. I will explain the overall strategy in a few words.

Four statements will assist in the explanation:

1) You know that after catching a disease generally you can't catch it again. You're immune to it.

2) If you have a really contagious disease, like chikungunya (CHIKV), whose memory we curse with many bad words, practically everyone will catch it, and become immune to it. Afterwards, if someone with the disease comes into the area or country only a few non-immunes will catch it and themselves become immune, and it will quickly die out; this is called herd immunity.

3) A second route to immunity to a disease is through vaccination without suffering through the disease itself.

4) A vaccine is said to take one year to 1 years to be readied for a mass immunisation programme to make everyone immune to the disease.

The drastic actions the Government is taking to quickly stamp it out, if effectively done, will cause very few people to catch novel coronavirus, but this will leave the vast majority uninfected and not immune to it.

Understand this, it will follow that in the period after the Government's quick initial stamping out of the disease there will be a window of opportunity up to the availability of a vaccine and the mass vaccination programme to stop the COVID-19 and make it no more than a nuisance.

Just like in fighting a bush fire, where there is a major effort to put out the main fire, remaining embers will start new fires and every effort will have to be taken to stamp out these little fires until the rains come to complete the job; so will the COVID-19 have to be fought.

Little outbreaks after the main spread of infection will have to rapidly be stamped out before they spread again through the vast number of susceptible non-immunes through vigilance and rapid action, until the advent of the vaccination programme. We cannot relax until then.

The alternative is unthinkable; let it sweep through the people of Jamaica like CHIKV, except this new virus will kill many more people, and give the survivors herd immunity.

I hope that yhis clarifies the situation.

Howard Chin

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