COVID-19 "the end of the beginning"

The Economist April 25th 2020 pp73 “The world after covid-19 Bill Gates” By Invitation “Learning to fight the next pandemic” “The novel coronavirus will hasten three big medical breakthroughs. That is just a start, says Bill Gates”

Someday down-the-road most of the narrative regarding COVID-19 will be changes catalyzed by the pandemic.

If we collectively choose four outcomes are likely.

1) We will have developed and deployed a vaccine in record speed by leveraging RNA and not traditional protein technology. Researching, developing and deploying RNA-based vaccines is quicker each step of the process. The vaccines instruct cells of the vaccinated to produce and display viral protein. The immune system, having not previously reacted with these proteins, responds by triggering a cell- and antibody-mediated response. If and when the vaccinated individuals are subsequently infected with COVID-19, currently circulating antibodies and immune cells target the virus for destruction and boost the immune response by creating a secondary wave of specific anti-COVID-19 antibodies and immune cells. See earlier Journal Club entries for more detail.

2) For the next pandemic, home diagnostics will be developed and widely available for testing from self-collected nasal swabs or other self-collected specimens like saliva etc.

3) “Researchers will develop large, diverse libraries of antiviral medications, which they’ll be able to scan through and quickly find effective treatments for novel viruses”. See earlier Journal Club entries for more detail.

4) International organizations will be formed to promote effective collaboration on meeting emerging pathogens anywhere on earth. Sadly, as COVID-19 diminishes in the wealthy world it will rise destructively and without sufficient healthcare capacity in less fortunate nations. Millions may die.

So, as Churchill claimed after Britain's first WWII land victory November 10th 1942, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.