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News Article

A Second COVID-19 Wave Scenario

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 04/27/2020 - 11:47

While all countries have epidemiologists advising them to confront the virus, a second contagion wave is something that might be inevitable, considering the current actions of the population. Even when governments all over the world have called for isolation and imposed lockdowns, not everyone is following the recommendations, which is counterproductive and increases the dangers of a second wave.

A second wave of a virus is always expected; it has happened throughout history. According to a CDC report, the Spanish flu back in 1918, which is still one of the deathliest pandemics the world has gone through, spread to 500 million people (around one third of the global population) and caused the death of at least 50 million people. This pandemic was first detected at the US military fields and it spread due to World War I. The second wave of the Spanish flu hit harder than the first and the death toll rose considerably. Unlike the US, Spanish authorities were vocal about the virus that killed around 8 million of their citizens.

The 2009 Influenza AH1N1 also brought a second wave. While the first cases were registered in April, by October of that same year, cases were rising again. The Ebola outbreak back in 2014 that lasted two years is already considered to be over is still reporting sporadic cases. While this virus has been more controlled due to its higher risk, a new outbreak is meaningful and concerning. With no vaccine, there is still a potential danger for people getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 and while many could have developed immunity, the danger of a second wave is still concerning.

At the moment, a northern city in China had to impose new lockdowns and preventive measures after new cases were reported. More than a 100 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were registered at Heilongjiang province after some factories and constructions restarted activities.

In Northern Japan, a second wave has hit Hokkaido, a region that had a high number of cases in relation to its population and that declared an emergency state for a month, from February to March. By April 15 Hokkaido presented an increase in COVID-19 cases that made the government declare a second emergency state fearing a second wave. Singapore faces a more concerning scenario after registering 1,426 new cases at a dormitory accommodation that hosts foreign workers. This unexpected peak exposed how close proximity of people can make the virus come back strong.

WHO has been vocal about the need for tests and experts say that these are key to keep infected cases at a low rate and effectively lift lockdowns. The UK’s chief science advisor told ABC News that immunity is key to reduce transmission, meaning than more people infected in the first wave means less people vulnerable for the second one. A global coordinated response is another effective method but this measure would have been effective back in January, as it was in 2003 when SARS was identified and contained at an early state. Having a vaccine would be the ideal scenario but according to WHO, testing will be the most effective method to contain the spread and a more chaotic second wave in the meantime.

COVID-19 numbers in Mexico have not risen dramatically but they only reflect the number of tested people. The country is still preparing to face a higher peak of contagion but without testing, we are blindfolded to our real exposure and vulnerable to the virus. Without testing, studies will not be certain on what is the stage and actual situation of COVID-19 in Mexico. Avoiding panic has been the banner of Mexican health authorities but the crisis at public hospitals speaks for itself.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst