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COVID-19 – Will we have to continue living with the virus?

For more than a year now, the novel COVID-19 has kept the world on edge. Since the virus first appeared in China more than 100 million people worldwide have been infected with it, and nearly 4,3 million people have died. [1]

Faced with lockdowns and fearing for our loved ones, we have been longing for the end of the pandemic, longing for life to be “normal” again. While we discuss the things we will do “once COVID is over,” researchers have been predicting that the COVID-19 virus may never disappear completely.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Coordinator, Michael Ray, is skeptical that SARS-CoV-2 will ever be eliminated after its rapid spread around the globe. “This virus may become indigenous to the population, it may never go away,” he said in Geneva last May.

Michael Ray, Emergency Coordinator World Health Organization (WHO)

Vaccination as a panacea

The rapid development of vaccines has been a source of hope in an otherwise dismal year. Three vaccines have now been approved in the EU, with many more in development. [2] The WHO counts 236 ongoing vaccine projects (as of Jan. 26, 2021). [3]

So far, the rapid development of these vaccines stands in stark contrast with their rollout. Most countries are still many months away from reaching a level of mass vaccination or herd immunity.

Despite slow rollouts, vaccines remain a cause for hope. Once widely administered, they will decrease the rates of infection. Even before that stage, we can expect to see rates of mortality and hospitalization to decrease because of vaccinations.

The future of COVID-19

While vaccines will play a crucial role in ending this pandemic, they may not eradicate the virus. The COVID-19 virus is already mutating, with notable variants emerging in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil. History has shown us that pathogens can go on to have long lives after the pandemic they have caused has ended. Such was the case with the influenza pandemic of 1918/1919, which claimed around 50 million lives worldwide.

The flu virus never disappeared and still exists today. This mutating H1N1 virus is usually weakened to “normal” influenza and travels around the globe every year as a flu wave. From year to year, the virus changes and its danger varies. In 2009-2010, the flu virus was so virulent that it was classified as a pandemic. This variant, named the swine flu, was responsible for about 100,000 deaths worldwide before. [4]

In light of a changing virus and delayed vaccine rollouts, certain protective measures, such as wearing a mask, will be with us for some time. They could even become part of our future daily routine.

Effective hand hygiene remains essential

According to the RKI (the German disease control and prevention agency), careful hand hygiene still represents the most effective protection against infection. [5] It does not matter which viruses are involved. Thorough and regular hand washing and hand disinfection have a significant impact on the incidence of infection. For more than 50 years OPHARDT Hygiene has been a leader in the development and production of hygiene dispensers.

Our products are designed for a wide range of applications. From hospitals to industrial plants, we meet the demands and needs of our customers. We at OPHARDT Hygiene have the honour of playing our part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing many dispensers. To meet the demand that arose, an enormous effort was required that is unique in the history of OPHARDT.

[1] https://news.google.com/covid19/map?hl=de&mid=%2Fm%2F02j71&gl=DE&ceid=DE%3Ade

[2] https://www.dw.com/de/dritter-impfstoff-in-der-eu-zugelassen/a-56387440

[3] https://www.vfa.de/de/arzneimittel-forschung/woran-wir-forschen/impfstoffe-zum-schutz-vor-coronavirus-2019-ncov

[4] https://www.br.de/wissen/ende-pandemie-corona-epidemie-seuchen-grippe-100.html

[5] https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/Krankenhaushygiene/Haendehygiene/Haendehygiene_node.html

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