After an interview with the President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, announcing that the end of the pandemic will be decreed in Ecuador in the coming days, several specialists have reacted negatively, since they warn that these decisions can generate new outbreaks of contagion of COVID-19.
“The pandemic has ended in Ecuador and that is thanks to a vaccination process that we carried out a year ago,” he told the channel. TC Television, on Monday, October 3, and stressed that this announcement would take place between seven and ten days later.
President Guillermo Lasso announced that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic will be declared in Ecuador within ten days
For the researcher, health specialist and professor at the University of the Americas (UDLA), Esteban Ortiz, the end of an infectious disease that continues to affect the world cannot be decreed.
In an interview with this newspaper, he pointed out that Ecuador cannot be excluded from a pandemic that globally affects all continents and for which all the studies and evidence are not yet available.
“It is a mistake by the president because surely in December or January we will have more cases and that is the end of the pandemic. For his political good and so that he does not continue making mistakes, he should seek advice from people who know about the subject,” Ortiz emphasized.
He also pointed out that in Europe there is a rebound in COVID-19 infections and that it may correspond to the arrival of more contagious variants and sub-variants, which are not resisted by vaccines and which may reach Ecuador in December or January.
How can the “end of the pandemic” be declared when:
a) In the last month it killed more than 30 people in Ecuador
b) The definition of Pandemic according to @RAEinforms en “Epidemic disease spreading to many countries”
c) Europe is BEGINNING a new regrowth ERGO, it will come to us soon pic.twitter.com/Rm67xAEXCi
– Esteban Ortiz (@EstebanOrtizMD) October 4, 2022
For the researcher in health issues, the coronavirus pandemic this year has lost the capital importance that it represented in 2020 and 2021. This, he explained, may be due to the arrival of vaccines, less virulent, less lethal variants, and better preparation of health systems, greater health promotion or greater care of people.
Despite this, he said, the end of a pandemic cannot be declared when there are still about 40 deaths in a month.
According to the Ministry of Public Health (MSP), from the start of the pandemic until October 3, 35,899 people died from COVID-19. In 2022 alone, they count 1,247 confirmed deaths and 307 probable cases.
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On September 22, the director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom, from the United Nations Assembly, held in New York, United States, pointed out that during the pandemic they have gone through a dark tunnel that is just beginning to appear. the light, but it is still far from the end of the tunnel.
“Here at the United Nations General Assembly, one of the questions I get asked the most is, where are we at, is the pandemic over? In our meetings with the press in the last two weeks I have said that the pandemic is not over, but that we are already seeing its end on the horizon. Both statements are correct, but just because we can see the end, it does not mean that we have reached it,” he said.
According to Adhanom, the situation is better than before, because the number of deaths decreases every week worldwide and represents 10% of the deaths registered in January 2021.
“Although cases and deaths have ⬇️ decreased, the #COVID19 it is still with us and there are no signs that it will go away any time soon.
🚨 The risks are significant 🚨 if we simply let the virus continue to spread freely.” @DirOPSPAHO pic.twitter.com/tcK0ktZojA
— PAHO/WHO (@opsoms) September 21, 2022
He also stressed that two-thirds of the world’s population has already been vaccinated, including 75% of health workers and older people.
“Restrictions have ended in most countries and life is very much like life before the pandemic, but 10,000 deaths a week is still too many, especially when most of them could be prevented,” he stressed.
For the epidemiologist Andrea Gómez, it is not possible to speak of the end of the pandemic when high levels of vaccination against the coronavirus have not been reached, at least, in the first and second booster doses.
According to the Vacunometer, a tool of the MSP, a total of 7,256,683 people have been vaccinated, reaching 52.83%. In the second booster dose, until October 3, 2,080,194 vaccines were applied, giving an equivalent of 15.12% of the inoculated population.
To this, Gómez added that it is a mistake to take into account only the indicators of mortality and number of hospital admissions when that is what it is about preventing. “That should not be the indicator, we still have cases, there is still mortality, therefore to speak that the situation in the country has been controlled is false,” he added.
He emphasized that there are still contagion peaks, but that this is not discussed because only the level of mortality is exposed, which has decreased. In his opinion, as long as there is no stability in the curves of the appearance of cases, one cannot speak of the end of the pandemic.
“These are communication errors by the president that generate a false sense of security in the population and that, together with the removal of the mask and care measures, reduce the effectiveness of vaccination (…) We have a population that is not 100% protected. and that rather, instead of giving a communication of protection, of care, of motivating vaccination, there is talk of the end of a pandemic, ”said the epidemiologist.
In another of the factors in which the experts point out greater emphasis for not declaring a pandemic over is in the consequences that the virus is causing.
Fatigue, cough and muscle weakness, among post-COVID-19 consequences that Ecuadorians deal with
According to Ortiz, declaring the pandemic over would be downplaying post-pandemic cases, where recovery measures should be increased.
He stressed that, in the data produced by research, 50% of people who were infected with COVID-19 have presented sequelae after overcoming the virus.
“Everyone is tired of this virus, but we cannot say that the pandemic that is leaving orphaned children, long-term alterations called ‘Long COVID’, among other effects, is over.”
Gómez agreed with this, for her, the importance that physical fitness, respiratory and cardiac diseases that appear after having overcome the virus have not been given the importance that it deserves. “There is talk that we must avoid getting sick, not motivate ourselves to get infected, but rather reduce that probability,” she added. (YO)