At a time when the world is nearing the milestone of 150 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 3.1 million pandemic deaths in less than a year and a half, the global response to the new coronavirus can be said to have taken place has flaws.
Even with the advent of vaccines for the disease, which has killed 400,000 Brazilians, vaccination has remained accelerated in just a few countries that have managed to drastically reduce hospital stays and deaths. The pandemic continues to worsen around the world, especially in countries like India, which broke the world record for registered cases, and Brazil.
For Anthony Fauci, director of the United States Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (Niaid) and today’s leading health agency, the world has fared badly, but the United States has fared much worse.
The problem is the lack of coordinated action given the country’s own federal characteristics. “The common enemy was the virus, but we fought among ourselves because there was a governor who said, ‘I believe everything you say let’s follow the guidelines [do CDC]”And another that sent a message to the population that they could not give in to the introduction of hygiene measures,” said Fauci.
The confused news and initial mistakes of mostly not centralizing mass testing in the country made it even more difficult to properly manage the pandemic. “We fought a pandemic at the most divided moment in United States history. I’ve never seen this in my 37 years at the forefront of public health. “
The White House’s chief health advisor spoke at the Nobel Prize Summit virtual event, held Monday (26) through Wednesday (28) and organized by the Nobel Foundation, the American National Academy of Sciences, and the Potsdam Institute on Climate Impact Survey and the Stockholm Resilience Center / Beijer Institute.
In addition to Fauci, a hundred science and health authorities, world leaders, Nobel Prize winners and artists attended the meeting, which for the first two days was divided into interview panels and scientific roundtables with proposals for collective solutions to climate change and the loss of the biodiversity, reducing inequality and the technology used on day three for sustainability in societies.
The Covid pandemic has spread around the world and across the country as viruses see no borders. However, some regions have had particular difficulties containing Sars-CoV-2, as has happened in the US and Brazil, where the virus first emerged from capital cities and quickly spread inland.
“For the virus, there is no difference between Mississippi and Indiana, between Maine and Vermont. We pretend we can fight the coronavirus independently, but that doesn’t make sense because it’s spreading everywhere, ”Fauci said.
With that in mind, it was an aggravating factor to face a president who denied the importance of the pandemic, neglected preventive measures, and repeatedly attacked China to be the epicenter of Sars-CoV-2, like former President Donald Trump.
Fauci says that it is always necessary to maintain integrity, even when it means speaking “inconvenient truths”. “As health authorities, it is necessary to stick to science and talk about what needs to be said. We can’t just guess what the government wants to hear, ”he said.
Similarly, in Brazil, the clashes between former Health Ministers Henrique Mandetta and Nelson Teich and President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) over the right strategy for carrying out Covid-19 in Brazil were the reasons for the withdrawal of the first and the resignation of the second .
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has spoken out against sanitary measures such as wearing masks and social isolation, lied about the effectiveness of these measures and vaccines, advocated easing restrictive measures for people’s circulatory system and even advocated those of drugs that Have proven ineffective in fighting the virus, such as hydroxychloroquine.
Regarding vaccines, Bolsonaro lied when he said the vaccine could turn people into an alligator, cause death, consequences, or even the fact that drug companies are not responsible for the effects and therefore people in the studies would be guinea pigs.
However, Fauci recalls that vaccines against Covid-19 did not come out of nowhere in 2020: they were the result of decades of scientific research, and their manufacture in record time was only possible through heavy investments in research and development.
“The story behind Covid-19 vaccines is decades of biomedical research in which tens of thousands of people work day and night on the immunogenic structure of the Sars-CoV-2 protein and how to use it, how to stabilize this protein and how to use it there is an immune response. It didn’t happen in January, it has been happening for 10, 15 years. “
One of the two winners of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Jennifer Doudna (the other winner was French Emmanuelle Charpentier), also spoke at the event about the genetic processing technique Crispr and its application in the pandemic.
The technique, first described eight years ago, was discovered thanks to the study of the immune system of bacteria, which Doudna sees as a perfect parallel to the moment in which we live. “It is interesting to believe that Crispr is a bacterial immune system whose job it is to recognize viruses in the body and to store information about them. It’s almost like a memory cell. So we can use the technique to identify Sars-CoV-2 in the body much faster and without the need to amplify the genetic material through the RT-PCR method, “he said.
In addition, the researcher explains that the technique has also been studied for use in environmental research, such as improving carbon sequestration in agricultural production facilities, thereby reducing the amount of CO2 gas in the atmosphere. “We are now going one step further to use Crispr to fight climate change,” he said.