Coronavirus (COVID-19) Collection
- Nearly two years since the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which has caused over 5 million deaths, the world continues to be on high COVID-19 alert. The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with national authorities, public health institutions and scientists have been closely monitoring and assessing the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 since January 2020 (WHO 2021a; WHO 2021b). The emergence of specific SARS-CoV-2 variants were characterised as Variant of Interest (VOI) and Variant of Concern (VOC), to prioritise global monitoring and research, and to inform the ongoing global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO and its international sequencing networks continuously monitor SARS-CoV-2 mutations and inform countries about any changes that may be needed to respond to the variant, and prevent its spread where feasible.
- Since the 1980s, at least 30 new infectious disease threats have emerged (Mukherjee, 2017). Of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) identified since 1940, 60% were zoonotic in nature, of which 70% originated in wildlife (Jones et al., 2008). This trend is expected to rise because of increased human–animal contact, climate change, land use changes, global population growth, and increased global interconnectedness (Jones et al., 2008, Mukherjee, 2017, Petersen et al., 2018).
- We thank Dr Paredes et al. for their comment to our editorial (Petersen et al., 2021) on the potential use of International Health Regulations (IHR) and immunizations against SARS-CoV-2.
- Use of real-time estimation of Rt allowed us to follow the effects of NPIs. The migrant population responded differently than the Omani population.
- The erratic ways by which the global scientific R&D, pharma and technology community conducted themselves during epidemics such as SARS-CoV-1, Ebola virus, MERS-CoV and others, the lack of co-operation and missed opportunities for filling important knowledge gaps and having an enhancing and multiplier effect, led to the establishment of the WHO R&D Blueprint and global strategy and preparedness plan (WHO, 2020a). The Blueprint leverages the successes and addresses the gaps in order for the world to be prepared for the next pandemic(s).
- With the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic passing one million ill people (1,521,252 confirmed cases and 92 798 reported deaths (WHO Sit Rep 10 April), most countries are occupied with controlling the outbreak. The economic consequences are enormous. The World Trade Organization (WTO) estimates that “commerce could shrink up to 32% and warns against 30s-style protectionism” [WTO, 2020].
- The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has made national governments worldwide to mandate several generic infection control measures such as physical distancing, self-isolation, and closure of non-essential shops, restaurants schools, among others. Some models suggest physical distancing would have to persist for 3 months to mitigate the peak effects on health systems and could be required on an intermittent basis for 12 to 18 months (Flaxman et al., 2020).
- Dr Li Wenliang, who lost his life to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, became the face of the threat of SARS-CoV-2 to frontline workers, the clinicians taking care of patients. Li, 34, was an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital. On 30th December, 2019, when the Wuhan municipal health service sent out an alert, he reportedly warned a closed group of ex-medical school classmates on the WeChat social media site of “Seven cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) like illness with links with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market” at his hospital.
- The city of Wuhan in China is the focus of global attention due to an outbreak of a febrile respiratory illness due to a coronavirus 2019-nCoV. In December 2019, there was an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, Hubei province in China, with an epidemiological link to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where there was also sale of live animals. Notification of the WHO on 31 Dec 2019 by the Chinese Health Authorities has prompted health authorities in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan to step up border surveillance, and generated concern and fears that it could mark the emergence of a novel and serious threat to public health (WHO, 2020a; Parr, 2020).