What can we learn for the future?

nIt was easy to predict the future course of the epidemic. However, in the meantime, experienced designers had to give up in view of the growing number of unknown parameters. “In terms of Covid, there hasn’t been much to say on my part lately, because we can’t make any accurate predictions at the moment,” Viola Breysmann, fashion designer from Göttingen, recently said on Twitter. The effect of the upcoming dilution is unpredictable, just as the current population’s immunity against the omicron variant BA.2 is unpredictable.

Sybil Anderl

Field Editor, responsible for the “Nature and Science” section.

Indeed, it is interesting to follow how much the challenges and questions faced by designers have changed since the beginning of the pandemic: First, general characteristics of the novel coronavirus – such as the basic reproduction number or sequence interval – must be derived using models from the available data. The next step was the effectiveness of the different measures, modes of infection and related contexts, before the impact of vaccination campaigns and different virus variants were integrated into the models – and made increasingly complex.

Science recently asked US researchers to trace the epidemic again from the perspective of epidemiology designers. Scientists’ conclusion: over the past few years, more and more general assumptions about the virus have been replaced by empirical knowledge in models. At the same time, a point has now been reached where long-term predictions become more difficult due to the emergence of new variants and the waning of population immunity over time, and the hope is that the wet-infection process can be better controlled.

How many acceptable deaths?

Instead, the question now is what our lives with the virus should look like in the future – options for this are discussed in another public article in Science with regard to a future vaccination strategy. In those countries with a high vaccination rate, it was already possible to separate the number of infections from the hospitalizations and the number of deaths. But now we must decide whether this is enough for us: if the current situation in Great Britain is estimated, for example, one would still have to count about 50,000 additional deaths every year there, in the United States it would be about 400,000. Is this a budget we want to accept permanently? Even if long-term Covid patients are taken into account? And if not, what pollination strategy should be viable in the future, modified with the regular emergence of new variants? Is it realistic to develop vaccines adapted to new variables, or should research focus on large-scale vaccines?

In any case, the current pandemic should be understood as a call to better prepare yourself for the future, US and Canadian scientists warned in another “scientific” article. SARS-CoV-2 was by no means a test of tolerability. The virus has a relatively stable genome and shares many characteristics with SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. In particular when it came to developing vaccines and medicines, it was thus possible to refer to much of what was already in the preparation – and yet there have already been more than six million deaths worldwide: “We must be much better prepared for the pandemic. Next “.

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