by Dr John N Telesford
As I listened to Mikey Hutchinson on Wee FM (13 July 2020), admonishing (warning, scolding) nationals whom I understand crowded out Bathway Beach on the previous day, I couldn’t agree with him more, and also commend him on his effort to ensure that the public is adequately and accurately informed on the troubles surrounding Covid-19.
The Government of Grenada has done its part, by using instruments of the law — Statutory Rules and Orders (SROs) to assist the population with preventing the spread and transmission of Covid-19. The average Grenadian declares that there are no Covid-19 cases on the island, but as Hutchison pointed out, they are omitting this very critical word — ‘confirmed’. As far as the Grenadian health authorities are concerned there are no ‘confirmed cases’ of Covid-19 in Grenada, with the last case being reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) some 47 days ago (WHO Situation Report #175, dated 13 July 2020). But as Hutchinson suggested, if for some reason, (God forbid), someone comes in illegally to Grenada, from a place where there are still active cases, and find themselves in one of these ‘illegal’ gatherings (yes it is illegal to have gathering of more than 20 persons, Section 9, SRO 45), and that person is a ‘super-spreader’ — emits lots of the virus — then we may have possible cases, but these can only be confirmed after someone is tested positive.
We are therefore in a very dangerous position, if Grenadians continue to blatantly boast that we have no cases, so let us fete. Coupled with this declaration is the lack of knowledge, the blatant refusal to wear face-covering (and if we are using it, it is worn as a ‘chin prop’ or ‘rhino horn on the forehead’) and in general just breaking the laws, which escalates this danger. And as we move closer to re-opening our borders to some places, this danger will further heighten. We keep talking about this ‘so-called new normal’, but continue to ‘not’ do the things that are required in the new normal. However, I hope that we will not be scrambling in the future, blaming everybody but ourselves, as the realities of Covid-19 hits us.
The other troubling signs with this corona crisis, were (1) a pre-print research that suggests that immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 might be temporary, and (2) that the virus may be airborne.
If these temporary conclusions are proven to be true, then we are in for a real long haul with SARS-CoV-2 and the new normal will become a more permanent reality. Herd immunity is a strategy that builds immunity to viruses in the society. So as more and more people contract the virus and survive, the immune system is trained to prevent that person from catching that virus again. The other approach to building immunity is through vaccines, and one for Covid-19 is nowhere near. So, in this pre-print paper, Researchers at Kings College London, conducted a study on patients who had Covid-19 antibodies for a 3-month period. They found that the levels of anti-virus antibodies were reduced over time. “The study raises the prospect that, like other coronaviruses, Covid-19 could re-infect people repeatedly. If that’s the case, “herd immunity” may never arrive, either through a one-shot vaccine or through community spread of the virus, as any protective antibodies would wane with time”. And the new normal will become more of a reality.
Additionally, the prospect of the virus being airborne is even more unsettling. Over 200 scientists from 32 countries, raised the loudest alarm bells yet on the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 being airborne. These bells really did ring out with the World Health Organisation (WHO), as the body called for more ‘urgent research’ to be conducted on the matter. Again, if this turns out to be so, where we place the emphasis to prevent spread and transmission of the disease will have to be adjusted. For example, ventilation in offices, churches, bars, restaurants and other places of business will become a high priority. And the ‘chin props’ and ‘rhino horns’ that we wear now will have to become ‘face-covering’ and the proper wearing of them will have to be enforced under Section 2 (3) of SRO 45.
We are heading into very interesting times as the corona crisis motors on. Here in Grenada, we seem to be spared, but this may only be temporary as we come to grips with the reality of the crisis. Then it will be everybody’s responsibility to do what is required to STOP Covid-19 in its tracks.