Covid-19: Hedimbi explains the science

23 June 2020 | Health

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



Professor Marius Hedimbi, who teaches medical microbiology at the University of Namibia (Unam) medical school, will host an Instagram Live seminar tomorrow to explain what science tells us about fighting pandemics like Covid-19.

Medical microbiology is the study of microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause disease. Microbiologists also advise the public health sector on measures to prevent infectious diseases and are involved in clinical trials of vaccines.



Unprepared

Asked why the scientific community was so unprepared for Covid-19, Hedimbi replied: “Firstly, when Covid-19 emerged in China, people thought it was just another seasonal flu and it was expected to be self-limiting. Secondly, nobody expected it to spread to the rest of the world. Thirdly, nobody expected the pandemic to last this long.

“The trend in outbreaks of infectious diseases (such as Ebola, SARS, MERS) is that they start to self-limit after some time. However, that is not the case with Covid-19; the infection appears to be increasing daily.

“The increase in air travel between nations also made the spread of Covid-19 hard to control and that's why almost every country is affected.”



Vaccine hopes

During the seminar, Hedimbi will share his thoughts on vaccine development, which he describes as a long and complicated process.

With Southern Africa in the grips of winter, many people expect the virus to spread faster.

“At this stage, it has not been proven scientifically that cold weather contributes to the spread of Covid-19 in the community, but there is strong reason to believe there is correlation between cold weather and the spread of Covid-19,” said Hedimbi.

“I think the most important worry is the public fear that will arise during the cold season. Winter causes an increase in general flu and cold-related symptoms such as cough.

“Since these symptoms are so closely related to those of Covid-19, you can imagine the negative profiling one will receive for having the flu or a cough at this time.

“Anybody with a cough will be an automatic suspect for Covid-19. It is no longer safe to have a cough or the flu during this period!

“For me, that panic in our community due to someone having the flu or a cough should not be ignored and the community need to be educated not to jump to their own conclusions based on simple observations of someone having flu symptoms,” he added.

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