A simplified summary of some knowledge we have about the new coronavirus

Published date: 03-05-2020

We have two phases of the illness, namely the virus phase (1st week) and the exaggerated inappropriate immunological phase (2nd week). The immunological phase appears to cause thrombosis, clotting within the small blood vessels. This impedes oxygen entering the bloodstream of the infected person and could cause damage to other organs (for example, heart attacks and strokes). The second phase appears to affect less than 15% of infected persons and is for the medical fraternity to resolve it in the best possible manner - using the simplest, safest, and most affordable treatment options.

The first phase is for the general public. We need to develop an immunity so we can safely come out of this lockdown. The lockdown does not heal or treat the infection — it just slows down the spread so our services are not overwhelmed. Ultimately, the best and safest way to develop an immunity is to be given an immunization that is safe and easily accessible. Immunization exposes us to a small and safe amount of the antigen (virus or portion of the virus) so we may develop an immunity. The immunization is a long way coming and we cannot be in lockdown until it arrives (in probably 2 years or at best 18 months). The next best exit strategy would be to develop what is termed as herd immunity in the safest manner possible. Herd immunity is when about 60%-85% of the population has developed immunity against the virus.

To develop herd immunity, we need to be exposed to the virus in a guarded manner. We know that seniors (above 65 years old) succumb to the infection in the largest percentage. Hence, you could possibly term them the “red zone” or the population that needs the most protection. Thus, they will have to be in some form of an enhanced MCO.

Those less than 50 years of age are our best front-liners. They need to be exposed to the virus and live their lives as normally as possible. They will get infected. Number of infections will increase and a few of them – a statistically accepted number if there is such a thing at all – will succumb to the infection. The hope is in three months this group of individuals would have reached the level of herd immunity. Then, the seniors can be assimilated into the general public when there are fewer human hosts for the virus to multiply and technically a smaller viral load that is available to infect those who are not immunized. This should also mean those infected will have a milder form of sickness. We hope that in these three months, improvements would have been made in the treatment category, thereby, further reducing the risk of mortality.

This still leaves us with a smaller group in the watershed area, those in the 50-65 year old bracket. Again, a guarded approach would call for those with pre-existing illnesses to join the senior group and be in an enhanced MCO situation, and the others to join the front-liners with caution, whilst abiding to border control, movement controlled to some extent, with personal health measures.