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A summary of 2021, the second year of the pandemic

Today – in this last article of the year – we will take stock of some of the lessons learned in the fight against the pandemic during 2021.

—Variants—

The first time that much of the world heard the word ‘variant’ was on December 14, 2020, when the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, announced a series of strict restrictions caused by the spread of a new variant of the virus, which appeared to spread more easily and to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original virus.

A week later, December 21,, detected in South Africa, and different from that of the United Kingdom.

Subsequently, so many variants appeared that the WHO, in an attempt to avoid a stigma against the country in which a variant was first identified, baptized them with the letters of the Greek alphabet in June. The one found in the UK was called alpha; the one identified in South Africa, beta. Subsequently, more were identified and the most recent was called the omicron.

“With each mutation, the virus has become more contagious and is able to mock the antibodies by natural infection.”

Latin America, due to the high circulation of the virus,, gamma, identified in Brazil, lambda, identified in Peru, and mu, identified in Colombia.

With each mutation, the virus has become more contagious and is able to mock the antibodies developed by natural infection and vaccines. Fortunately, the latest variant, omicron, appears to be causing milder disease and could herald the start of the endemic phase in 2022.

-Vaccines-

When on December 11, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine – the first in the Americas – Latin American countries, Peru included, waited with enormous expectation and anxiety that a similar vaccine would reach the closest health center in their territory.

Little by little, the long-awaited vaccines began to reach the countries that were able to buy them and we came across the first great lesson of the year: inequity in their distribution. While the poorest countries on the planet looked at the unattainable vaccines from afar,. This caused the Covax initiative, a global project led by the WHO, to fall into crisis because rich countries did not collaborate with the collection of the necessary vaccines to be distributed in poor countries.

On the other hand, when the world awaited the development of vaccines, scientists and the public alike expected that COVID-19 vaccines would behave like children’s vaccines, that is, that they would provide long-lasting protection against the new coronavirus for many years. .

“This year it was completely clarified that COVID-19 is transmitted through aerosols.”

Sadly, in July, the world ran into a huge surprise: Pfizer applied to the FDA for authorization to use a third dose, because data from Israel showed the effectiveness of its vaccine in protecting against symptomatic delta variant disease decreased from 90% to 64% after the second dose.

It was the first time that a third dose of the vaccine against the COVID-19, third dose that is now common practice in the world. Recently, however, Israel authorized the use of a fourth dose of the vaccine for people over 60 years of age, health workers and people with decreased immunity.

We now know that vaccines are not capable of providing lasting protection and all vaccines in use have been documented to have lost effectiveness against symptomatic disease against variants of the new coronavirus.

This decrease in the effectiveness to prevent infection has occurred because of the vaccines in use, and it was not foreseen that the virus would mutate so rapidly, causing a significant loss of effectiveness.

The reality is that after almost 8,800 million dose of different vaccines against COVID-19 administered in the world, the vaccine is considered safe and very effective in protecting against serious illness and death, and it is the fundamental weapon in the fight against the pandemic.

-Contagion-

In this 2021 we have learned that, although it is true that the virus can be transmitted through contaminated surfaces, that is not the main route. This year it has been completely clarified that

This means that the main mode of protection against contagion is the use of high-efficiency masks, such as N95 and KN95, avoiding meetings with people in poorly ventilated closed spaces and improving the ventilation of all closed spaces.

-Medicines-

There are already two drugs approved to prevent a high-risk patient from getting complicated and reaching the hospital. On December 22, FDA authorized the emergency use of Paxlovid from the Pfizer laboratory, a combination of two antivirals that reduces hospitalization and death by 89%; Y the next day, licensed the limited use of Merck’s molnupiravir, which is 30% effective in achieving the same goal. Both will be very helpful in the outpatient management of the infection.

In short, it has become clear that human beings, thanks to science, are managing to control the pandemic, which at the time of writing this episode has caused more than 276 million of cases, and more than five million deaths on the planet, 202.454 of them in Peru.

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