11 September 2020 | Views
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the way people live their lives. Social distancing alters the way many people interact, but some resist the changes
Medical and pandemic-related terms continue to pop up in the media. The average reader or viewer may know what the terms refer but might not possess a full understanding. The term "superspreader" continues to appear in the news. However, the word does seem a little ambiguous. What constitutes a superspreader event? Does the spread need to be as significant as the one in Sturgis?
The term superspreader refers to an individual who spreads the virus to a significant number of others. The critical point here is "individual." One person could spread the virus to many people, and those persons may spread the virus to many more. It only takes one person to spread the virus to several other people. The assumption that a significant number of people become necessary to spread the virus to a larger number of people would not be correct.
No one will likely know the number of infected people who attended the Sturgis rally. With 400,000 people in attendance, the odds are many attendees were COVID-19 positives. 1% of 400,000 would be 4,000 people.
What makes the Sturgis rally worse than many other superspreader events is the national nature of the gathering. Thousands of motorcyclists traveled from around the country to attend the rally and then return home. Someone infected at the rally would possibly transmit the virus to others on the return journey or the return destination. Playing casino games such as Teen Patti might be preferable to some, while others choose to take risks outside the home. Human nature is what it is.
The situation remains dire in the United States and around the world. In the U.S., the coronavirus death toll now hovers in the 180,000 range. The figure will increase dramatically before a vaccine is developed and distributed.
Hope exists for a vaccine's fast development, but various clinical trials become necessary before a manufacturer may release one. The trials do more than explore a drug's effectiveness. The tests also examine safety. A drug might effectively vaccinate people, but there could be health risks that far outweigh the benefits. The trials also investigate how much of a drug is safe to use and when it may become toxic. Acetaminophen, for example, is a common over the counter product. Used at unsafe doses, it can cause liver failure.
Manufacturing and distribution come with hurdles. It takes time to get the vaccines to the public, and then there are dosage amounts. A person may require two injections over one month. And it could take several weeks for the hypothetical vaccine to deliver the intended result.
In short, the creation of a successful vaccine precedes logistical issues. Persons expecting miracle results will likely feel disappointed.
Superspreader events, be they at Sturgis, college campuses, or anywhere else, represent health risks. Healthcare professionals continue to stress the basics: social distances, hygiene, facial masks, and the like. Those choosing to ignore the advice put themselves and others at risk. And an unfortunate number of people do seem to ignore the suggestions.