Medicinal

Pandemics are hard to track down as the Covid-19 test plunges

Testing of Covid-19 has plummeted around the world, making it much harder for scientists to track the course of a pandemic and find it as new, anxious viral variants emerge and spread.

According to experts, testing decreased by 70-90% worldwide from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year. This is the opposite of what should be happening with the growing new Omicron variants, such as in the United States and South Africa.

Dr. Krishnauda Yakumar, head of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University, said he had not tested near where it might be needed. He happens and responds.

For example, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the average number of cases reported per day in the United States is 73,633, an increase of more than 40% over the past two weeks. An influential modeling group at the University of Washington in Seattle estimates that only 13% of cases have been reported to US health authorities, which means more than 500,000 new infections each time. Day.

The decline in testing is global, but the overall proportion is particularly inadequate in developing countries, Udaya Kumar said. The number of tests per 1,000 people in high-income countries is about 96 times that in low-income countries. FIND, a public health non-profit organization based in Geneva.

Experts point out the malaise of COVID, the calm after the first Omicron wave, and the feeling that there is no reason to test for lack of access to antivirals among some residents of low-income countries. doing.

At a recent press conference by the World Health Organization, FIND CEO Dr. Bill Rodriguez called for testing the first victims of our global decision to relax our vigilance, and what’s happening with the virus. He said he didn’t know what it was.

Health officials in New York State discovered a hyperinfectious BA.2.12.1 mutant after investigating higher-than-average cases in central New York.

Rodriquez told The Associated Press that no new variants will emerge in the future, as did previous variants.

As infections increase and people develop symptoms, tests increase and new cases become more calm. With the recent surge, testing is increasing again in the United States.

However, experts are concerned about the magnitude of the decline after the first Omicron surge, the low overall level of global testing, and the inability to reliably track cases. Home testing is useful, but you can detect variants using only the tests submitted to the lab. If fewer tests are run and fewer tests are processed in the lab, fewer positive samples can be used for the sequence.

Also, test results at home are barely visible to the tracking system.

Mara Aspinall, managing director of an Arizona-based consulting firm that tracks trends in COVID-19 tests, has at least four times as many home tests as PCR tests, essentially from home tests. He said he was getting zero data.

This is because there is no unified mechanism for reporting results to the health departments in understaffed areas. The CDC strongly recommends communicating the COVID-19 diagnosis to a physician who must report it to public health authorities in most places.

However, in general, home test results are radar.

Reva Seville, a 36-year-old parent in Los Angeles, tested herself at home this week after she began to experience symptoms such as itching, coughing, and congestion in her throat. After her result returned positive, I tested it two more times just in case. However, her symptoms were so mild that she did not plan to go to the doctor or report her results to anyone.

Beth Burton, a construction company in Washington, Missouri, said she had been tested at home about 10 times before visiting her parents or when she had symptoms that seemed to be COVID-19. Everything went back negative and I shared the results with people. She’s around her, but she didn’t know how to report them.

We need an entire system for that, Burton said. He is 42 years old. As a society, we don’t know how to measure where we are.

According to Aspinall, one solution is to use techniques such as scanning QR codes to report the confidentiality of home test results.

According to experts, another way to track a pandemic more accurately is to enhance other types of monitoring, such as wastewater monitoring and hospitalization data collection. However, they have their own drawbacks. Wastewater monitoring remains a patchwork that does not cover all areas. The tendency to be hospitalized lags behind cases.

Udaya Kumar said scientists around the world had to use all the tracking methods they had at their disposal to catch up with the virus, and they had to do so for months or even years.

At the same time, he said measures needed to be taken to strengthen testing in low-income countries, saying that improved access to antivirals in these locations would increase the demand for testing, to increase testing. One of the best ways is to integrate it into existing medical services, said Wadzanayi Muchenje, who heads the African Health and Strategic Partnership for the Rockefeller Foundation.

Georges Benjamin, Managing Director of the American Public Health Association, said it would be time for the world to stop extensive testing of COVID-19, but that day is not yet here.

He said it is unacceptable to worry only about personal health, as the pandemic is protracted and the virus is still unpredictable. We have to worry about the population.

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