According to the World Health Organization, the maximum alert level for the coronavirus could decrease towards the end of the year and, in this way, it would come to represent a threat similar to that of seasonal flu, with outbreaks and an increase in infections in specific contexts. . This was confirmed by Michael Ryan, a WHO official, at a press conference: “We have reached a point where we can look at covid-19 in the same way we look at the seasonal flu, that is, a health threat, a virus that will continue to kill, but a virus that does not disrupt our society or our hospital systems.“.
The United Nations had declared an “international public health emergency” on January 30, 2020, when only 100 cases had been registered and none outside of China. For his part, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the organization’s director general, stated that “for the first time, the weekly number of deaths recorded in the last four weeks was lower than when we first used the word ‘pandemic’three years ago”. With this, the present one, perhaps constitutes the most favorable scenario since the spread of infections began more than three years ago.
“Clearly this year we are in a much better situation. And, for this reason, the alert level for the disease is reduced. It is true that we still have to see how it evolves, but for some time now, thanks to vaccination, the virus has been controlled“, points out Daniela Hozbor, biochemist and principal investigator of the Conicet at the Institute of Biotechnology and Molecular Biology of La Plata.
Since the beginning of 2020, one of the great fears (unfortunately later confirmed) was that the rapid spread of the virus would cause the collapse of the healthcare system. Under this premise, the States, through their health portfolios, strengthened their health institutions, added intensive care beds and respirators, while postponing scheduled surgeries and care for various conditions. Despite the actions, however, the system was saturated and, as the response was not enough in a crisis framework, millions of people died.
Bad comparison and excess death
At the start of the pandemic, Sars CoV-2 was compared to the flu. Since these are respiratory viruses, it was believed that the dynamics of the new pathogen could be analyzed in light of the characteristics of influenza. However, the international scientific community soon noticed their differences and the position of presidents such as Jair Bolsonaro that minimized the impact of the pandemic under the argument that the coronavirus was nothing more than a “gripezinha”.
According to data provided by the Our World in Data site, 6.8 million people died of coronavirus. However, the one carried out by sites like this (reliable, by the way) is only an estimate, since, according to the projections, the death figures would be much higher. One of the parameters that best approximates a more real number is the “excess mortality”, which expresses the difference between the deaths that have occurred and the deaths expected in a given period. Specifically, if the recorded deaths are more than expected, it is considered that there was excess mortality; and, along these lines, the higher this index is, the more serious the impact of the pandemic can be considered.
Earlier this week, the Ministry of Health led by Carla Vizzotti reported that the excess in 2021 at the domestic level was 26.3 percent (equivalent to 90,000 more deaths than expected). From this it can be deduced that Argentina was one of the countries with the lowest excess deaths during the pandemic. Although it is a considerable figure, it is one of the lowest in the region: the country is 8 points below Brazil, 16 below Mexico and 34 below Peru, just to cite a few cases.
Within this framework, the vaccination campaign led by the government was successful, providing immunity with the primary scheme and reinforcements to a large part of the population and this ultimately caused thousands of deaths to be avoided. “As the virus is here to stay, it is time to see the inclusion of the covid vaccine in the mandatory national calendar. The central idea is to understand that the covid will become a manageable disease like the seasonal flu“, Hozbor points out.