The pandemic has been tough on our nerves, not merely because of the fear and lockdown depression, but also because of confusion. Something new comes up every day. Even scientists disagree on COVID-19 and seem to be changing minds frequently.
Right from the beginning, when the news about a highly contagious coronavirus broke, the world has not been right. People always had so much faith in science and medicine that they assured themselves that a cure will soon be out.
And then we saw as the virus kept expanding its territory while people prayed for a cure. But for the first time, generations across the globe were left speechless and scared of a virus with no cure so far.
Many times, someone would look at a piece of news with jubilance which talked of a possible cure, a vaccine. And then the hope was shattered as the results were not satisfactory.
Slowly, as time passed, instead of cure what we received was a continuously changing opinion on how to deal with the pandemic. And what’s more surprising, this came from doctors, scientist and organisations like WHO, who should know precisely what they are doing.
Some of the most fickle opinions of researches were on the effectiveness of face masks, the mode of contagion, incubation period and the ever-changing and increasing list of symptoms. All scientists have different opinions on how to deal with the pandemic.
But why? What is making doctors and scientists disagree on COVID-19? Before we get into it, let’s have a look at those things that have seen most arguments and clashes of opinions.
Face masks- yes or no?
As soon as the coronavirus outbreak started spreading, the purchase of face masks and gloves, along with hand sanitizers skyrocketed. People were buying them at an alarming rate.
Apart from that, the hoarding of other essential amenities was also noticed. As per the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), most of the people did not need to wear the masks if they were not coughing or sneezing.
Then in February, when there was not much data available, US surgeon general had urged people to stop hoarding masks as it was not helpful against the spread of the infection.
Later on, as per the new guidelines, people were advised to wear masks stating it can help contain the spread of the virus.
Although it was specifically mentioned that masks alone will not be useful, they were still made mandatory by governments across the countries. They are more useful than doing nothing at all.
So the story of masks goes from being totally useless to been declared mandatory everywhere. And every time it was on the basis of new research and data on coronavirus that either WHO or scientists issued new guidelines.
Now moving on to the next thing.
Incubation period- 14 days?
To help contain the spread of the COVID-19, experts advise the suspected patients to go in a 14-days self-quarantine. Why? Because the incubation period for the novel coronavirus ranges from 5-14 days usually.
Before we get more into it, let’s understand what the incubation period is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the incubation period:
the period between the infection of an individual by a pathogen and the manifestation of the illness or disease it causes.
So basically, within 14 days of self-isolation, a person will know if they are infected as the symptoms will start showing.
But there have been reports of people testing positive even after completing 23 days in self-isolation. The initially 14-days incubation period was again challenged by new facts.
Later research and study showed that 101 out of every 10,000 cases will develop symptoms after 14 days. More and more cases in different parts of the world were reported with an incubation period of over 14 days.
Symptoms and mode of infection
Facemasks and incubation periods aren’t where it ends. Even in the case of COVID-19 symptoms, there has hardly been a solid ground. With new symptoms being added every day, people have to constantly keep themselves updated in every regard.
Just when you thought you know all there is to know, something new may come up.
Every day there has been a new addition in the list and people were keeping up well. Then came the day when scientists and doctors told us that a person can also be a silent carrier. They can spread the infection without showing any symptom themselves.
Then again there have been different views on how long the virus can survive on different surfaces. Just like everything related to coronavirus, this has been constantly changing as well.
Lockdown and conflicting views on tackling the virus
Despite all the conflicting ideas, one thing has been agreed upon by all the scientists and doctors- social distancing is the best way to tackle the situation.
But the problems arise when there are divided views and opinions on this as well. There have been several other scientists around the world who have expressed scepticism on the effectiveness of lockdowns.
Now that sounds a bit ludicrous, doesn’t it? How can a scientist who agrees on social distancing being a good preventive measure oppose lockdowns after all?
Well again, it’s all about the different views. The lockdown has its own adverse side effects and most of the scientists have a clear idea about what it may lead to.
It won’t just affect the economy, but also our mental and social well being. A vaccine’s discovery could take about 18 months. And even after that, we can’t be sure about how effective it will be. Can we afford to go into a lockdown period of 18 months?
Lockdowns, supposed to be our safety net, has also made people more paranoid, depressed, socially isolated and technologically addicted. If this lasts for too long, the recession that will follow is not going to be a small one.
The impact of COVID-19 and lockdowns are already heavy on us. Many experts say that COVID-19 will most surely persist even after the discovery of a vaccine.
This may eventually become an endemic as influenza and people may develop herd immunity. We need to learn how to live with the disease. It’s gonna stay with us for a long time.
Why do scientists change their views?
Science is all about changes and evolution. The key factor in the fight against COVID-19 is our understanding of the disease. But what if our understanding is limited?
Scientists have recently been worried that the strong disagreements among them and their changing viewpoints on the virus might lead people to lose their hope in science.
But we have to understand one thing this is not politics where the changing stance means you are unsure or that you are trying to fool anyone. In science, things are forever changing.
A scientist is respectable only if they are willing to accept the newly discovered facts and data.
CVID-19 is a new disease which has baffled the world. Scientists are doing their best to learn as much as they can about this virus. Their views have gone from north to south in the last five months because. The reason for this is the lack of data.
Whatever they told us back in January was based on data they had about the virus, which was relatively less back then. What they are telling us today is based on the data and facts collected over a span of six months worth of research and study on the virus.
How do you think their views will not change as they know more and more about the disease and how it spreads. We should be grateful that they do change their minds because this isn’t a known virus that we are talking about.
This is something we are still in the process of knowing. Complete facts about this disease are yet to be established. And the process of establishment is fickle, it has to be. That’s the way of science- it evolves with knowledge.
Why do scientists disagree on COVID-19?
It again comes down to the fact that we do not have enough data on COVID-19 yet. What we know are symptoms, outcomes, effects. But there still a lot of questions that need answering.
When we hear different views on how to deal with the disease, we have to listen, not criticize. COVID-19 has posed many questions and all we have at the moment to deal with them is the pattern that comes with infections.
Are women more prone to the disease or men? How fast does it spread in a certain community? Why are death rates more in this place and less in that place? What age group is more prone to the disease?
All these questions are being answered based on studies and data collected every day and every hour. Based on those data, scientists are trying to find a way to tackle the spread of the disease while work on vaccine still goes on.
But at the same time, some scientist came forward and opposed any further expansion of lockdowns and asked people to go back to their normal lives with extra precaution and vigilance.
Does this mean they don’t care about what happens with the world? Maybe not.
Let’s listen, not criticize
Many scientists have asked for the lockdown to be lifted with enough planning and vigilance. While it may seem plausible to object the lifting of the lockdown, we first need to hear the scientists who support it instead of criticizing them.
A still unknown virus is inflicting pain on us and we are all very scared. But this isn’t going to end anytime soon, the virus is here to stay for a long time.
Different scientists across the globe are coming up with different views and all their views are important. There can not be an individual solution at the moment for this global problem.
If we choose to keep coronavirus our only concern, then we choose to ignore other rather more serious problems like heart attack, or a severe accident that might cause immediate deaths.
Can we go on sidetracking all the major issues that our total consumption in coronavirus has resulted in?
The matter here isn’t strictly about whether a lockdown should be lifted or not, it’s about being open-minded and listening. We need to consider all the different views of doctors and scientists if we want to survive not only the pandemic but also the post-pandemic world.
We need to be as open to new facts and possibilities as our scientists are.
Stay safe. Until next time!