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Episode #38 - Current Global trends

12 May 2021 | Science conversation

Summary

What is data telling us about the spread of COVID-19 around the world? What does evidence tell us about transmission in populations that are vaccinated? WHO’s Dr Oliver Morgan explains in Science in 5 this week.

 

Podcast

Transcript

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Hello and welcome to Science in 5. I am Vismita Gupta-Smith and these are WHO’s conversations in science. Today we're talking to Dr. Oliver Morgan about the trends that we are seeing around the world for COVID-19. Welcome, Oliver.

Dr. Oliver Morgan

Thank you very much,Vismita. It's a pleasure to be with you.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Oliver, what is the data and science telling us about COVID-19 transmission and the picture around the world?

Dr. Oliver Morgan

Well Vismita, we're seeing quite a concerning picture. Throughout the month of March and April, there has been a steady increase in the number of cases each week and the weekly number of cases is now higher than any time in the pandemic. We've also seen that the number of cases in younger adults and children might be higher than in previous periods of the pandemic.

We think overall the increase in cases and the higher number of cases in younger people is due to three factors. One is because of changing adherence to public health and social measures and resulting in increased social mixing. The second might be due to the circulation of new COVID variants that are more transmissible. And the third is because of uneven or unequal distributions of vaccines.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

On vaccines, Oliver, could you please give us what is the picture that's emerging as more and more countries are vaccinating? What is data telling us?

Dr. Oliver Morgan

Well, we have good information from scientific studies that individuals who receive a COVID-19 vaccine are at a lower risk of severe disease or death.

We've also seen that several populations that have achieved high vaccination coverage, often in older age groups, have seen reduced transmission in those age groups. However, not all populations have been able to achieve  high vaccination coverage and we still see circulation of COVID-19 in all age groups, and especially in the younger age groups who are not vaccinated. For this reason, it is very important that we all continue to adhere to public health and social measures to reduce the occurrence of  transmission of COVID-19.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

So, Oliver, based on the trends that you described in the picture that you just painted, what is the way forward for us in this pandemic?

Dr. Oliver Morgan

Public health and social measures are an important part of what we all must do, even though people are getting very tired. Public health and social  measures include a number of different actions, such as wearing masks, maintaining distance between each other, washing our hands frequently. When we do need to meet, it's important that, where possible, we meet in places with good air circulation, and also importantly, when we do have the opportunity to receive  a vaccine, we take our vaccine  when we have that chance. So an additional factor that we must also continue to focus on is making sure that we have good surveillance and good laboratory testing, so that we know where infections are occurring. This allows us to adjust the public health and social measures as needed. And this must be done along  with good contact tracing, treatment and isolation also for all populations. It is also important for us to keep investing in science, both on vaccines, but importantly on treatments, as well as laboratory tests for COVID-19 so that we can improve our interventions as we go forward.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Thank you, Oliver, for explaining the science and especially telling us about the importance of investing in science. Until next time then, stay safe, stay healthy and stick with science.

 
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