Covid-19’s Basic reproduction rate in Norway (R0) today reached below one (1) for the first time. More specifically, 0,7. This is great news and might bring some much-awaited hope to both people and crisis-ridden businesses which, in turn, might increase activity to prevent society from going to the dogs. But now what?
The situation is like managing to climb up on a rock in the midst of River Wild; You’re still in the river and have nowhere to go. Your only choice is to sit tight until the river’s source dries up. And by then, your business might be dead, your customers gone, unemployment numbers are through the roof, and the world hits recession – even depression. Not quite bombed back to the Stone age, more like 1930’s – style.
The virus won’t stop by itself, when there are hosts to infect. Developing herd immunity will take years, and if we let go of restrictions such as Social distancing now, we will be back in the stream overnight. With no vaccines or sufficient medication in sight, we might be stuck here for a long time. Even if the virus completely disappeared from Norway, we would never be safe. Being part of a global community, the virus would, at some place or another, continue to spread towards our borders – until it finally re-arrived, one way or another.
Hence, the good news coming from Norway today are unfortunately just that; News of the day. I am not an epidemiologist nor an MD, but from working with Healthcare my whole adult life, I just-can’t-see-what-difference-it-makes. It seems to me, knowing this, that our options are still limited, moving within the mitigate-suppression spectrum of available strategies.
- Working towards global herd immunity, at some point far ahead. By that time, countless people will have succumbed to the virus, our Healthcare systems nearly broken. Gruesome priorities will be done. But we might just escape a financial depression.
- Waiting for a vaccine. Also a time taking affair. Maybe as much as one, one and a half year away. Perhaps our best shot in the long run. Other pandemics will follow, we already know this. It makes good sense to establish a global, agile system for developing vaccines “on the fly”.
- Waiting for new medication that helps people overcome the physical symptoms and consequences of the virus, without becoming fatally ill or dying. A promising alternative, like the one above. But can we put our faith in this actually happening in time? It’s not like this is the first virus or pandemic we’we experienced, and the experience from previous viral medications and vaccines for that matter, has been so-so.
- The virus mutating into a kinder version, even one that is not passed on quite as easily. Which may happen, but may also happen the other way around, with the virus going even meaner.
Though being a rare piece of positive news, the low reproduction rate alone does not really put us out of our misery, being simply a direct result of the restrictions imposed. Great – so what now? The fundamental threat from the virus has not changed, so which options are we going to choose moving forward and out of the dark?