Slow Gains against the Virus


If we must find some good news about the global novel coronavirus pandemic, we perhaps could point to the improved survival rates recorded in the latest tallies—about 1.5 percent of diagnosed cases ending in death as of the beginning of November, compared with about 7 percent fatality during the spring’s devastating first wave. Researchers have also assembled a clearer picture of what preexisting conditions dispose an individual to higher risk of death from COVID-19, which helps identify society’s most virus-vulnerable populations.

In this edition’s cover story [“Why Some People Get Terribly Sick from COVID-19”], journalist Claudia Wallis profiles these conditions and creates the compelling takeaway image of Russian nesting dolls, in which vulnerability to death is a complex equation: underlying roots, such as specific genes, are confounded by social and economic factors. Such insights haven’t quite given humans an edge over this insidious virus, but we are slowly gaining ground. We hope you find many takeaways in this issue.

This article was originally published with the title “Slow Gains against the Virus” in SA Health & Medicine 2, 6, (December 2020)


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