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Don’t Have Everybody “Stay Home” Too Long4
HSVG misson P.O. Box 206, Hagatna, GU 96932, USA
(01/17/2022)Did G20 learn lessons from the Delta? When the world welcomed 2022, many people were actually calling the new year “pandemic year 3.” If we have had it enough and do not want “pandemic year 4,” year 5 or year 6, let’s encourage Indonesian government step forward with its Group of 20 (G20) presidency to call for an international campaign helping people around the globe fearlessly live with the coronavirus and adopt the new normal as soon as possible. Quite a number of public health experts had advised before COVID vaccines became available that the human society was inevitably going to live with the coronavirus for a while and only sustainable measures would help everybody get through the pandemic. Unfortunately, most governments , with certain high-profile scientists and celebrities, put so much faith in lockdowns and looked forward to seeing COVID vaccines would work perfectly like a silver bullet even though, at that time, almost every vaccine developer was apparently targeting at lowering the numbers of severe patients and death victims instead of guaranteeing no infections after getting vaccinated. The Delta variant’s attack last summer was a wake-up call. Many countries, after enjoying reopening and sort of returning to normal brought by successful vaccine rollouts, experienced the Delta variant of the coronavirus caused a new wave of case surge, made hospitals overwhelmed again, and, sadly, took many people’s lives. It was the time that people started being familiar with a term called “breakthrough infections.” For example, Singapore surprisingly reported 28,901 new infections and 40 deaths in September 2021 after the vaccination rate was beyond 80%. Their COVID death number was zero in September 2020 when there was no CIVID vaccine at all. The epidemiological investigation and laboratory results concluded the changed situation was mainly caused by the Delta variant. Singapore was not the only place having a bad September last year. As of 31 August 2021, 80.43% of the residents 12 years and older were fully vaccinated, but Guam, an US island territory in the Pacific reported 47 COVID-related fatalities in September 2021. The figure was higher than the death number of 39 reported in September 2020 when no vaccine was available at that time. With almost the same land size, Guam is home of less than 200 thousand residents and Singapore has a population of 5.7 million. It means the highly-contagious Delta variant was influencing everywhere, no matter a busy and crowded city or a relaxed and rural place. In addition, obviously, vaccines alone are not suppressing the coronavirus. Europe’s experience reminded that nobody should drop his/her guard even thought the population reached a high vaccination rate. European Union has been leading its member states to keep precautions and try reopening in a gradual way. The continent has maintained a basically downward curve of infections as well as hospitalizations and deaths since its successful vaccine rollouts in association with well-managed medical capacity, even though the Delta variant did make a noticeable, but not really harmful, spike. However, it seemed that most parts of the world did not learn lessons from the Delta and implement proper measures when the Omicron came. The World Health Organization did not wait for sufficient morbidity and fatality data to be collected. Its warning message on the Omicron variant released late November last year triggered many countries’ panicked decisions of tightening COVID restrictions. It’s sad that South Africa’s variant identification efforts, which should have been appreciated, made its people punished by the almost worldwide travel ban. The wait wasn’t even long. Before last Christmas, at least three scientific researches caught the media’s attention and proved the Omicron variant may be much more contagious but it’s mostly causing mild cases. However, the chaos has hurt people. For example, Guam, which finally saw a little bit tourism recovery last November, immediately suffered from more than 5000 travel booking cancellations right after the Omicron panic widely spread. More variants will definitely come and we definitely do not want more chaos. While the Omicron has shown the new variants in the future are very likely to be less lethal and the COVID vaccines are actually promisingly reducing severe cases, plus the antiviral medicines are available, the whole world really needs a leadership that urges every jurisdiction to guide people fearlessly living with the virus by using more appropriate strategies to respond to every emerging variant. Let’s try to recall whether the system was encouraging people to get tested during the flu season to try to contain flu viruses. Were we worried so much when we experienced flu-like symptoms or got diagnosed as having flu? Wasn’t the goal of flu control to avoid severe complications and save people’s lives? The best tools helping us achieve the goal are always personal hygiene and flu vaccines although so-called “breakthrough infections” did happen to flu vaccines as well. COVID is not flu, but flu control experience could apply to COVID response, especially to the current situation of “pandemic year 3,” a year that G20 presidency returns to Asia, where people totally have no issue with wearing a mask and helped prove this measure could effectively prevent COVID spread. Indonesian government needs to work with its G20 partners and make history.(Published in The Jakarta Post on January 11, 2022) http://www.hsvg.org/hot_414422.html Did G20 learn lessons from Delta variant? 2022-01-17 2023-01-17
HSVG misson P.O. Box 206, Hagatna, GU 96932, USA http://www.hsvg.org/hot_414422.html
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(April 13, 2020)

Don’t Have Everybody “Stay Home” Too Long


European Commission announced a concept of short-time work on April 1 as an initiative of helping people keep their jobs and go back to full work as soon as the lockdown will be over. We welcome this initiative and would like share our evidence-based analysis reminding that healthy adults should be allowed to resume their daily lives as soon as possible to have a fully-operated system efficiently tackle the pandemic.

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New data in the U.S. showed 17 million Americans filed for unemployment in the past four weeks. The spike in new jobless claims is believed to result from the pandemic control lockdowns that have kept Americans from their workplaces and forced many companies to shutter or to lay off employees. We all know that unemployment could not only affect people’s finance but also ruin their ability of taking care of their health.


In addition, the “stay-home” order in some states within the U.S. has also affected certain senior care operations, for example, free meal delivery to the seniors got delayed or rerouted, while the elderly is actually a group of people who need extra care most during the pandemic. It is better that healthy adults are allowed to resume their routines soon to help the community get back to normal early.


According to a report published by Italy National Health Institute on March 17, 96.3% of fatal victims in Italy were patients over 60 years old. 99.2% of Italy’s coronavirus fatalities were people with at least one chronic medical condition, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Based on the demographic, we suggest the system should have the vulnerable stay home and, more importantly, offer them extra care. Young and middle-aged adults without serous health conditions should keep their routines to maintain the community’s full operations and, in addition, to help many households avoid the miserable economic consequences of workplace shutdown.


Only when the system is fully-operated, we are able to take good care of the vulnerable and to end the pandemic. It is worth to notice that Hong Kong and Taiwan seem to have contained the spread pretty well and Japan and South Korea have been seeing a good trend of calming down the epidemic. All countries mentioned above did not place a nationwide lockdown or “stay-home” order at all.


Germany has not shut down daily life either. Only food and entertainment outlets have been closed since the end of March. Germany has been conducting intensive testing and strictly quarantined sick people and their contacts. It has also got the medical system ready for a pandemic. Therefore, as of April 12, Germany has 127,459 confirmed case and 2,996 deaths recorded. Its case fatality rate (CFR) is 2.35% and this figure is considerably lower than fellow EU members Spain (10%), France (10.8%) and Italy (12.7%). More impressively, Germany has started taking care of patients flown from Italy and France.


What Germany is doing is actually flu control protocols. Although COVID-19 is not flu, the coronavirus appears to be showing its highly contagious nature and “flu-like pandemic pattern” after so many countries around the world reported cases. Thoroughly follow “modern” flu control protocols is therefore the most relevant and sustainable measure for most countries.


What does “modern” flu control protocols mean? The protocols should include a surveillance network that asks clinics and hospitals to report patients with flu-like symptoms for further virus testing and early advanced treatments. Furthermore, It adjusts resource allocation to help medical community get ready for a huge amount of patients to save the vulnerable, and reminds healthy people to practice good hygiene all the time as well as implements home or institutional quarantine on sick people and their contacts to flatten the epidemic curve.


Lockdown was probably working well during the 1918 flu pandemic, but not now. Lockdown probably helped China, but it does not fit all countries. We are looking forward to seeing European Commission helps its member countries ease their lockdowns as soon as possible. We are also hoping the EU shows the world a good leadership and helps countries in other regions copy with the pandemic together in the near future.