He new coronavirus it is more present than ever in the world. Some European and Asian countries managed to stop the massive infections after the unfortunate death of a good number of people and the exhaustive activity of the health services, which were on the verge of collapse (in some countries the ventilators and ICUs were not enough) .
In colombia, the number of infected inhabitants is close to 400,000, while 12,000 deaths have already been exceeded.
The pandemic, particularly in Latin America, is at a complex point, for which rigorous measures have been necessary against the virus.
In the middle of the conjuncture, Michael Mina, a Harvard professor, unveiled his ‘strategy’ to eradicate the virus from a population in as little as three weeks. It proposes, among other things, massive tests, action applied in several countries that, today, have achieved some effectiveness in controlling the coronavirus (such as Japan, New Zealand and, despite the outbreak, Australia).
(Read also: 11 infected died in a rented hotel fire to treat them).
Mina, who is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health and a core fellow at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics (Ccdd), made his ideas known in an interview in the publication ‘Harvard Magazine’.
His first postulate is that PCR tests (those done with swabs in the nose) “are failing”. As he said, “the tests belong to the clinical field, to that of diagnosis and they have to be carried out by laboratories”, therefore, the detection time is long enough for the person with the virus, even without knowing that it harbors, infect others in its environment.
“When a positive is detected, the health services can no longer do much to achieve the first objective: to stop the outbreaks“Said the professor.
That is why, for him, there are two fundamental aspects at this stage of the pandemic: more tests carried out and at higher speeds.
As he explained,vogue for the application of rapid tests “although a rapid test is a thousand times less sensitive than a PCR”.
It is worth noting that one of the main difficulties of rapid tests is credibility with the health services of the respective countries. However, for Mina it is more effective to avoid contagion by knowing it in less than 24 hours (rapid tests) than in two days (generally the maximum term for PCR results).
The ‘script change’ for people
Mina’s proposal focuses on that each person gets a rapid coronavirus test every two to three daysTaking into account, as he stated, that this type of tests can be carried out from home and, depending on the countries, they can have an approximate cost of 1 dollar (almost 4 thousand pesos).
According to this postulate, if someone contracted the virus, they can detect it in the shortest possible time and, with this, isolate themselves, take the necessary care and, above all, avoid spreading it in other places.
Mina raises this because “the vast majority of the positive PCR tests we currently collect are finding people long after they are no longer infectious”, that is, when it is ‘too late’ and the virus has reached many others nearby inhabitants or the places that are frequented (which can be all: supermarkets, pharmacies, shops, work spaces and neighborhoods).
“We need to change the script of what it means to test people”, He assured, taking into account that, despite his proposal, rapid tests are not absolutely reliable unlike PCR.
Regarding this discrepancy between some results and others, Mina used a particular analogy in ‘Harvard Magazine’: “Imagine that you are in a fire department and you want to make sure you find all the fires that are burning so that you can put them out. You don’t want a test that detects every time someone lights a match in their home; that would be crazy: you would be driving everywhere and to no avail. You want a test that can detect every time someone walks the streets with a flamethrower. “
The vast majority of the PCR tests we currently collect are finding ‘positive’ people long after they have ceased to be infectious
Some studies found that it is not yet possible to speak of ‘herd immunity’ against the new coronavirusas the antibodies of the people tested did not last long enough to fully retain the virus. This strategy, applied, for example, in Sweden, would not prevent a new wave of infections in subsequent months.
Mina’s proposal is, effectively, just a postulate or a premise that has had neither application nor scientific verification. At the moment, the vast majority of medical and scientific efforts are directed towards the detection of cases by means of PCR tests, the treatment of patients with severe infections and the finding of a vaccine.
(About this theme: What are the 5 most advanced vaccines for covid doing and how do they work?).
Regarding the vaccine, currently, there are almost 6 projects proving its effectiveness in humans. In fact, this Monday, Russia began to distribute its vaccine in its country (which, according to another investigation, created antibodies in people).