Some Good News, for a Change

We have evidence that the contagion curves are flattening thanks to social distance measures. We must keep them, in the world and in Venezuela.

Photo: Ángela Bonadies.

Yes, it’s all pretty grim out there. 

No one knows when lockdows will be lifted, or what “normal life” will look like after this. COVID-19 has claimed over a hundred thousand lives, and many of us are feeling the psychological toll of being apart from the people we love in these hard times. But not all is bad news and it’s worth taking a look at some of the positive things going on right now.

First, we have evidence that social distancing is working. Cases are still being diagnosed in huge numbers, and people keep dying all around the world. But not at the same speed as a couple of weeks ago. The curves are flattening for real.

Daily new COVID-19 cases diagnosed worldwide.
“Special attention should be kept in Latin America and Africa where the disease arrived later, and the flattening isn’t evident yet.”

The effect on the number of deaths is a little less visible, but remember that people dying today got infected a couple of weeks ago when the situation was way worse. 

Take a look at the same graphs in Spain, Italy and the U.S. and you’ll see that the hardest hit countries are showing promising signs. This doesn’t mean the pandemic will be over soon but as long as social distancing measures are sustained, hospitals will have it easier dealing with it. Special attention should be kept in Latin America and Africa where the disease arrived later, and the flattening isn’t evident yet.

Granted, the good news is harder to see in Venezuela. The pandemic joins the neverending political and economic crisis, the blackouts and, more recently, a massive fuel crisis that makes even the most optimistic observer wonder what you’re still doing in the country. A positive bit of the crisis, though, is that people are more aware of the huge efforts Venezuelan doctors are doing to keep national hospitals afloat. They’re working in arguably the worst conditions in the continent with only masks, while government officers fancy full protective suits. They’re an example of resilience and dedication, and that’s now more evident to the rest of the country.

Many Venezuelans are also providing their valuable services abroad, both in hospitals or riding their bikes to take food to those at home, making it clear that immigrants aren’t a liability.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated scientific research to an unprecedented level. Studies that used to take years are being done in months. Yes, we don’t have a specific treatment yet, and a vaccine won’t be available in the coming months, but scientists around the world are working harder than ever to make experimental treatments available to the most critical patients while getting the data needed to determine how useful they really are.

COVID-19 reminded developed countries that infectious diseases are something the whole world should be worried about. Hopefully, this interest will translate into more funding and research not only to tackle the new coronavirus, but many other conditions that have been neglected in the past. The virus, which jumped from animals to humans, also highlights the importance of the One Health concept: animal and environmental health are as important as human health when it comes to preventing the spread of potentially lethal diseases.

I’m confident we’ll hear more good news sooner than later, but in the meanwhile stay home and stay healthy. You can be sure it’s making a difference.

Juan Carlos Gabaldón

Medical doctor from Merida, currently studying Medical Parasitology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine