TORONTO - A few years ago, in the course of an interview with surgical oncologist, I asked what is the best therapy for cancer? Cancer is a killer disease and the success of treatments (always painful) available for it are measured in five-year survival rates. Without missing a beat, he responded, “don’t contract it”.
Covid-19 has not yet proven itself to be in the same class of lethal diseases – and may it ever be so – but at this point, the premier medical treatment is: “take measures not to contract it”. Wash your hands. Frequently.
Unlike cancer, Covid-19 is contagious (transferable) – you can pick it up from the most unlikely sources. Keep your distance. The transfer element applies to people as well as to stationary surfaces. Avoid becoming a statistic.
Curtail its spread. It’s not much of a strategy, but it’s the only effective one so far. At least until medical science researchers come up a vaccine or an antidote. The process is not a short one. Nor is it inexpensive. From the laboratory to testing on live subjects to actual manufacture and distribution the work is laborious and costly.
Italian researchers were among the first to isolate the active, “disease bearing ingredient” in Covid-19. German researchers are apparently well on their way to isolating the active molecule(s) that may serve as the basis for effective medication. The Americans appear to be laggard although prepared to buy the German research – as is – for some USD $2 billion, provided they have exclusivity on the “medicine”.
Oodles of money have been set aside by governments for the economic adjustments that are being required as a result of the disruption in normal patterns of socio-economic behaviour, thanks to Covid-19. Who knew we had the collective will and financial resources?
“Populist”, and typically Right leaning parties and governments, are now preaching the fiscal necessities required by the strategy of isolation and containment. The epitome of such strategies is none other than Bibi Netanyahu – soon to be former Prime Minister (maybe) of Israel – who is calling for testing of everyone in the country in order to obtain accurate and/or comparable data to launch e«ective remedial therapies.
Shutting borders, cancelling flights, curbing local transportation is only the start, he maintains. It would seem that others finally agree.
Europe is setting aside 750 billion euro (about 4% of its GDP) for mitigation strategies. The USA and Canada, both about two to three weeks behind schedule are talking in terms of “whatever it takes”.
Italy is at the leading edge of these containment strategies. Its health care system, judged by a John Hopkins University study to be either the best or second best in the world, is stretched to its limits. Schools are being converted into temporary hospitals with one task only: treat those who contract Covid-19 away from others with other conditions or emergency health needs.
Our Provincial governments are following the Federal example in declaring states of emergency to lock down everything – including the Courts – and finally putting in place serious measures for reporting contagion, monitoring the affected and testing for results.
It is a di±cult time for everyone. Every institution we have laboured collectively to build over centuries will have to be re-strengthened after this is over. In the meantime, WASH YOUR HANDS, keep a distance and clean after yourself. Good health.
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