Prof Vandamme has welcomed the government’s new measures as these impress on the population the seriousness of the situation. She is also hopeful about the future: “We know an awful lot about the virus. We know that people without symptoms can pass on the virus. We also have a rough idea of the number of people who are infected but only have slight or no symptoms. Around half the people who have the virus will never realise this.”
Information from China and Italy is showing us the symptoms of COVID-19 can be alleviated and how critical patients can be treated.
A vaccine is already being tested. It’s been administered to healthy individuals to see if it’s safe and doesn’t trigger side effects: “It’s going incredibly fast. This hasn’t gone so fast with any other disease and that gives hope” says Prof Vandamme.
Both medicines and vaccine are important.
“With medicines we can reduce mortality rates. With a vaccine we can tackle the virus” says Prof Vandamme.
She hadn’t foreseen the size of the present epidemic. A peak still awaits us:
“China took stricter measures from the start and they are past the peak. Italy waited much longer and their peak has not yet passed. Diagnosis of new cases is stagnating, but diagnoses are only made of critical cases. That gives a distorted picture. My impression is that Italy is reaching its peak.”
Prof Vandamme believes a peak will be reached in Belgium within ten to 14 days.
“The measures we had were sufficient, but they weren’t followed sufficiently. I believe we will have to stick with the present measures longer than 5 April.”
Epidemiology is the branch of medical science concerned with the occurrence, transmission and control of epidemic diseases.