COVID-19: the universal enemy on the battlefield

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Marina Lais Barreta, a 22 year old fourth year medical student at Centro Universitário Ingá (Uningá), in Maringá-Pr, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

With more than 2 million lives interrupted by the new coronavirus, the planet remains to watch, astonished, the worst health crisis in the last hundred years. Fortunately, the completion of the genetic sequencing of SARS-CoV2 made it possible to develop diagnostic tests and stunning studies for possible vaccines. A mix of hope, conflicts and challenges.

The power and organization, both of logistics and distribution of immunizers, intensified contrasts between countries. For some a comforting scenario, while for others a painful utopia. There is no doubt that coordination and cooperation between the scientific community and public health agencies need to converge in a methodical manner, since vaccines had their regulatory approvals in record time. However, this is only the first step to control this pandemic. Ensuring the supply of syringes, disposable gloves and cottons, as well as the storage conditions of the doses and the adequate training of professionals for the handling of vaccines, made the vaccination campaign a primary goal in the planning of governments and authorities.

Undoubtedly, providing equal opportunities to those affected has become a complex and costly process. Above all, the care with the expiration dates of vaccines and supplies is another pandemic obstacle that needs to be included in the colossal planning of vaccination against COVID-19, as well as ensuring the proper functioning of the vaccination registration programs, which will be fundamental in the monitoring of immunization, safety and vaccine efficacy.

Despite this scenario, for the story to have a good outcome, the population’s acceptance to be vaccinated is essential. Many still hesitate to receive a new product due to questions about the real efficacy and safety of vaccines and the lack of trust in the authorities in several countries. The consequences of non-vaccination, such as the reduction of population immunity, may result in localized outbreaks or pockets of infection in specific groups or populations (such as whooping cough in developed countries in the 2000s). With this in mind, the immunization campaign is extremely necessary for a possible interruption of the chain of transmission of such an infectious disease. In the same vein, another challenge that proved itself costly and spread misinformation about vaccines, came from the strength that the fearful “fake news” achieved. Doctors, specialists and researchers were bombed – as never before – in the course of the pandemic, with distorted and absurd contradictions propagated by individual intentions on promoting themselves by instilling panic in the already fragile population.

Thus, these challenges stimulated incremental innovations in all areas of science and health, as well as reinforcing the need for effective public surveillance and disease prevention policies and also for a powerful articulation between scientific societies, adding to the importance of the action of health professionals in disseminating the benefits of vaccination, in order that the defense of life and general well-being can be assured.

About the author

Marina Lais Barreta is 22 years old fourth year medical student at Centro Universitário Ingá (Uningá), in Maringá-Pr, Brazil. She participates as coordinator of the local Uningá committee, of the International Federation of Medical Student’s Association of Brazil (IFMSA Brazil) and is part, as scientific director, of the academic league of Nephrology at Uningá. Passionate about volunteering, she believes that life can become meaningful and more attractive when she can provide some kind of assistance to the population, so her search for knowledge is insistent and endless, since she believes that’s the basic pillar of success.

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