The recent move by the World Health Organization (WHO) to recommend that nations end lockdowns as the chief means of controlling the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus was intriguing.

However, in a recent piece that is nothing less than shocking, a new report from The New York Times says that experts are confident that the coronavirus pandemic will end “far sooner” than originally expected.

Like me, New York Times science reporter Donald McNeil Jr., has been following the pandemic closely since its start. He assesses its current status optimistically:

Since January, when I began covering the pandemic, I have been a consistently gloomy Cassandra, reporting on the catastrophe that experts saw coming: that the virus would go pandemic, that Americans were likely to die in large numbers, the national lockdown would last well beyond Easter and even past summer. No miracle cure was on the horizon; the record for developing a vaccine was four years.

Events have moved faster than I thought possible. I have become cautiously optimistic. Experts are saying, with genuine confidence, that the pandemic in the United States will be over far sooner than they expected, possibly by the middle of next year.

One aspect of the pandemic to watch for is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying that the number of deaths falls below the “epidemic threshold.”

“The ‘epidemic threshold’ refers to the point at which the observed proportion of deaths is significantly higher than would be expected at that time of the year in the absence of substantial influenza, and now COVID-related mortality,” Kristen Nordlund, a CDC spokeswoman, told USA TODAY.

The last few weeks have shown a steady decline in deaths per week attributed to COVID19.

The high in April was over 17,000 deaths per week.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/index.htm

Furthermore, WHO’s executive director for health emergencies, Dr Michael Ryan, said they now estimate one in 10 people may have been infected with the virus. As the virus is airborne, and many of those who are infected are not symptomatic or have very mild symptoms, this seems reasonable.

Given that the global population is estimated to be 7.8 billion, that means 780 million people have had coronavirus infections. The current global COVID19 death total is 1,083,234. Therefore, the Infection Fatality Rate is 0.13% . . . which is on par with the seasonal flu.

Therefore, if this trajectory continues, the pandemic may conveniently end in time for the Christmas season.

New and effective treatment and therapeutic approaches have been critical in the reduction in the number of deaths. McNeil highlights the effectiveness of President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed.”

Sometime in the next three months, health experts say, the F.D.A. is likely to begin granting approval to vaccines now in the works.

Despite the chaos in day-to-day politics and the fighting over issues like masks and lockdowns, Operation Warp Speed — the government’s agreement to subsidize vaccine companies’ clinical trials and manufacturing costs — appears to have been working with remarkable efficiency. It has put more than $11 billion into seven vaccine candidates, and the F.D.A. has said it will approve any one that is at least 50 percent effective at preventing infection or reducing its severity.

Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed’s chief scientific adviser and a former pharmaceutical executive who has overseen the development of 14 vaccines, has said repeatedly that he expects some of the candidates that he picked to have 75 to 90 percent efficacy and at least two to win approval by early January.

As election season enters the final phase, it is gratifying to see some real news coming from the NYTimes for a change.

 

 
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