It’s been more than a year since Covid burst into our lives with such devastating effect. In this period, we have learnt a few new things. We learnt a new word “asymptomatic” and that even such people can spread disease. We learnt that masks help. That vaccines can be quickly developed. That some drugs offer a ray of hope, and more may be on the way.
That said, there is still a lot we don’t know, or are not sure, about Covid. Here’s a sample list of questions that are bothering the best of virologists, epidemiologists, immunologists …
- Some people get Covid without ever realizing they are infected (like my driver). Others get mild, flu-like symptoms (like me). Others have more severe symptoms, needing more drugs, hospital care, oxygen, ventilators. Some die. Most recover. Some return home only to have to face symptoms for a long time (“Long Covid”). Why does this happen? What accounts for these wide varieties of outcomes?
- Why are kids largely not seriously affected by Covid?
- How infectious are pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people?
- How do you scientifically test if a person has immunity?
- If yes, how much immunity is enough? When does it need to be boosted?
- How long does immunity last?
- Does it make a difference if you got immunity from the disease or the vaccine?
- Can vaccines protect you from variants and mutants?
- How often can re-infections happen? Are they likely to be mild?
So the next time I hear some expert “definitively” holding out about Covid and how to handle it and what should be done and not be done, I think a dose of humility is in order. We still have a long way to go, many things to learn before we can say we have won the war against Covid. But is it really a “war”? That’s a story for another day!
Peter Theobald, Author of “I am NOT a Doctor”