The current Covid19 pandemic has had massive consequences for humans and businesses alike across the world. There have been many pieces of information sprouting on “flattening the curve,” different testing methods, the effectiveness of various PPE and possible research into how to combat the virus (amongst many others – I should also note it is never appropriate to inject disinfectants).
Our experiences have shown that whilst we are a global community many of us were woefully underprepared for how to effectively deal with Covid19 and I suspect in two or three years’ time I suspect that there will be a lot of hindsight based articles along the lines of “we said this should have happened but nobody listened to us.” But in the heat of the battle as it were I think it’s important to focus on other areas that are critical.
Outside of all the science, I feel that the best thing we can do is to arm ourselves with information and be prepared in how we can pass this information on effectively. A quick group discussion in the kitchen is no longer happening and neither is the post work drink or any other myriad number of informal ways that communication occurs within an organisation. It’s also a time when there is so much speculation and so much information out there that needs to be filtered from having a potential impact to what is definitely going to impact us or our businesses. I think that the people, companies and countries that manage to get a handle on this best will be the ones that are best placed to respond with agility to rapid circumstantial changes in these trying times.
Switching to the science side of things it is clear that there are a lot of issues at play. Suppliers of qPCR based tests are struggling to keep up with the quantities required for testing (particularly affecting resource limited countries), whilst nasopharyngeal swabs are somewhat invasive and incredibly difficult to process in a high throughput manner. Antibody based testing (whether POC or lab based – or seen differently lateral flow vs ELISA) has seen an explosion of suppliers and it’s currently a bit of a minefield trying to determine if these tests can do what they claim they can on the box. We’ve already seen India stop a purchase for an Ab based test based on it not living up to what was promised. There is also the issue of time to development of sufficient antibody levels for detection of infection – raising the issue of potentially spreading the virus without being aware of infection. I think though that just underlines the importance of my first point – there is a vast amount of information being generated out there currently and those individuals (whether people or businesses) that can identify useful or meaningful information and integrate this successfully into their decision making processes (including how to pass this knowledge on) will likely come out in a better position.
As much as we may be feeling isolated and apart we need to continue to work together. This too shall pass…and when it does, hopefully we can take all of these new information and communication systems and processes we have built forward and use them to our advantage.
Stay safe everyone!
Liam Bell, PhD