Corona mutations as a hint: will the pandemic pass faster than expected?

Updated February 25, 2021, 11:11 am

The WHO reports sharply falling infection numbers on a global level. Despite the mutations rampant everywhere, the coronavirus is losing its strength surprisingly quickly. Researchers recognize a pattern of past pandemics and are creating new hope with a surprisingly good prognosis.

One column

from Wolfram Weimer

While Germany is concerned about mutations and the third wave does not trust the lockdown, reports the World Health Organization (WHO) on a global level an amazing easing of the pandemic situation. The global infections have been falling massively for six weeks in a row – much stronger and faster than forecast.

Falling corona numbers give hope

In the second week of January the pandemic according to official figures reached its peak. At that time, according to official data, more than 700,000 people were infected every day. Now, just six weeks later, the numbers are only half as high at 350,000.

The trend is sharply falling on all continents (with the exception of the eastern Mediterranean region). And that, although in most countries now Mutations shape the infection process and the strict lockdowns are relaxed everywhere. The number of those who died of or with COVID-19 has also halved within a month. For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, declining deaths have been reported around the globe.

The WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns: “Now we have to stabilize the positive trend. The fire is not out yet, and if we don’t fight it any further, it will come back blazing.” But Ghebreyesus and his WHO officials speak louder and louder in their analyzes and comments that the latest developments are “very encouraging” and “a turning point”.

Also read: All current information about the corona pandemic in our live blog

WHO Regional Director: Worst scenarios are over

The WHO Regional Director for Europe, the Belgian Hans Henri Kluge, even announced on the Danish state broadcaster DR that the Coronavirus-Pandemic will be overcome in just a few months. Kluge predicts that the worst scenarios are now over. “There will still be a virus, but I don’t think any restrictions will be needed. That’s an optimistic statement.”

For the German easing debate this announcement by the WHO should be an encouraging signal. Especially the scared look Germany on the mutations looks exaggerated by the WHO numbers. Kluge says mutations are “normal” and that they won’t cause the coronavirus to get out of control. In fact, infection rates are falling just as sharply in countries with high mutation incidences as elsewhere – in South Africa, for example, by 33 percent within a week.

The massive decline in the number of infections can have not yet been triggered by the vaccinations, because so far only a fraction of the world’s population has been vaccinated.

Experts see three main reasons for the drop in numbers

According to the experts, there are three main reasons for the sudden drop in the number of infections.

  • First The precautionary and hygiene measures are effective in many countries.
  • Secondly There are increasingly regions with advanced immunization of the population (such as the USA, Sweden and Brazil), as a large part of the population has already been infected and is slowing down further spread.
  • Third The development of mutations apparently leads to the fact that virus mutants can become not only more dangerous, but also more harmless. As a rule, pandemics even end with mutations that are less pathogenic than their ancestors.

The epidemiologist Klaus Stöhr, who headed the global influenza program of the WHO and was also the SARS research coordinator there, pointed out weeks ago that that historical experience makes a sudden decrease in the infection rate likely.

In fact, the two major influenza pandemics in 1957 (Asian flu, two to four million deaths) and 1968 (Hong Kong flu, one to three million deaths) collapsed as quickly as they reared up.

Also the Spanish flu of 1918/19 (more than 50 million deaths) was deadliest in its second wave and passed relatively quickly shortly after the third. But it never disappeared, the pathogen is still there today: the H1N1 virus, which is mostly weakened to “normal” influenza. This means: Mutations are usually the beginning of the end of a pandemic.

Vaccination campaigns accelerate the end of the pandemic

The renowned specialist magazine “Science“is now publishing a study by US researchers from the universities in Atlanta and Pennsylvania, headed by biologist Jennie Lavine, with the prognosis that the coronavirus will soon become” endemic “, i.e. that it will only spread locally. Accordingly, the pathogen could be in the foreseeable future The global vaccination campaign will accelerate this gratifying process.

Prof. Heiner Fangerau, Director of the Institute for the History of Medicine at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, also expects this and, with a view to the Spanish flu, which has quickly come to an end, says: “I expect the corona pandemic to be similar.” The virologist Friedemann Weber from the University of Giessen also predicts: “Spring 2021 should already be noticeably more carefree, summer almost normal again and autumn as good as normal.”

Sources used:

  • NTV: “Surprising Phenomenon” – Corona is on the decline worldwide

You can find more current information on the coronavirus here


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