A video is circulating on networks of an alleged Canadian doctor self-identifying as Roger Hodkinson who claims that governments "have to come to terms with the fact that modern medicine is totally powerless to control the spread of respiratory viruses". This is a DECEITFUL assertion. There is currently no way to completely eradicate respiratory infections such as influenza or covid-19, but modern medicine is not "totally impotent": there are success stories of strategies to control epidemics of respiratory viruses such as SARS or MERS, whose cases were reduced to a minimum thanks to the scientific knowledge accumulated throughout history.
"Governments must come to terms with the fact that modern medicine is totally powerless to control the spread of respiratory viruses."
There is only one human disease in history that has been completely eradicated: smallpox, in 1980. This was achieved after a 3,000-year battle during which it had coexisted with humans, thanks to vaccination. Today, other diseases are in the process of being eliminated, such as poliomyelitis and malaria, although there is still a long way to go. In any case, smallpox is quite explanatory if one wonders why it is so difficult to eradicate an infectious disease: first, it is vital that there is an effective treatment (preventive vaccines or drugs to combat the disease), which is not always the case, but also each case depends on a multitude of variante, such as the number of pathogens that produce the same disease, the number of hosts that can host the pathogen, whether it is a disease with easily identifiable symptoms.
However, controlling the spread of a respiratory virus does not only depend on scientific advances to eradicate it. One of the clearest examples of successful respiratory disease control was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic. The virus was first detected in China in November 2002, and spread to 26 countries, leaving 8,098 confirmed cases and 774 deaths. However, within just eight months the epidemic has been brought under control. How did they do it? With no vaccine or treatment, the strategy consisted of syndromic surveillance, immediate patient isolation, strict quarantine of close contacts and, in some cases, strict community quarantines.
Treatments in vaccines
In parallel to preventing the spread of infectious diseases, the priority is to prevent deaths. In the case of covid-19, in addition to non-pharmacological measures (social distance, hand washing, use of masks, quarantines, etc.), vaccines have been developed that are capable of drastically reducing the probability of developing serious illness and death, especially in the population at risk. The plot provided by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) in Madrid shows how, while cases have shot up in both the third wave (from the end of Christmas to the beginning of February) and the fifth wave (July), deaths have not occurred in the same proportion.
Specifically, on 18 January, Spain had an incidence of 689 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, similar to the incidence of 644 on 22 July, at the peak of the fifth wave. However, at that time, the health ministry reported 455 deaths, 23,184 hospitalised patients and 3,287 ICU patients. At the end of July, the Ministry reported 18 deaths, with 7,255 hospitalised and 1,180 people in ICU.
Another way of viewing it is as indicated by the English National health Service (NHS), which estimates how many deaths have been prevented thanks to vials. According to their calculations, in which the University of Cambridge was also involved, 105,900 deaths and 24,088,000 infections could have been prevented by 20 August 2021.
Reducing the spread
"Generally, modern medicine can help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses, thanks to vaccines —which prevent us from getting sick and can also reduce the likelihood of infection— and treatments —which often reduce viral loads in people who are already infected," Adelaida Sarukhan, immunologist and scientific writer at the Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal in Catalan) in Barcelona, tells Verificat.
In the specific case of SARS-CoV-2, the injections “have been shown to be very effective in protecting against the disease— over 90% against severe disease and death, even with the delta variant—" concludes the expert.
Studies indicate that covid-19 vaccines do indeed not prevent infection, but this is not a one-off: "There are few vaccines that completely prevent infection and thus block transmission —what are known as sterilising vaccines," says Sarukhan, who points out that this is especially true for respiratory viruses: "Vaccines —usually intramuscular— do not always generate lasting immunity at the mucosal level, which is where the virus enters," she indicates.
In conclusion, modern medicine (vaccines and treatments) is not yet able to completely eliminate the transmission of respiratory viruses such as influenza or SARS-CoV-2, but it is able to control their transmission.
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