Three years after the first patient who was affected in Argentina, it is being discussed whether it is the end of the pandemic

On March 3, 2020, the then Minister of Health Ginés González García confirmed the first case of covid-19 in Argentina. Since then, a pandemic has elapsed, three years, 130,463 deaths, 10 million infected, confusion, vaccination campaigns, social changes and a long series of etceteras that we still do not measure well. Yesterday, three years after that initial date, President Alberto Fernández and the Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, held the “One Country, One Response” Conference at the Kirchner Cultural Center (CCK), which brought together representatives of the Council Federal de Salud, to health system personnel from all provinces and references from decentralized organizations and the private sector. The purpose? Value the actions carried out to respond to the pandemic and pay homage to those who allowed it to be moderated.

Precisely, the global impact was enormous: it is estimated that some 20 million people died directly or indirectly. Arguably, the covid was the most serious tragedy of the last hundred years, second only to World War II.

To summarize what was left of this commotion and imagine the future, PROFILE interviewed Dr. Luis Cámera, a clinical physician and adviser to the national government. Cámera was one of the professionals who most put their “face” before the cameras to explain and think, in technical meetings and in the media, what happened to us in the last 36 months.

The first question is obvious and implies knowing if we are still in a pandemic. And his response is forceful: “We can already say that it is something else. I speak of an ‘epidemic’ or a covid-22, which is very different from the original”. According to Cámera, “if we analyze how the coronavirus and its latest strains –especially Omicron– evolved, it had a huge impact compared to 2020. The predominant variant today is capable of evading contagion vaccine protection and is highly transmissible. But it has also become less lethal. As a place to be: the Delta had a fatality rate of three deaths per hundred infected, while Omicron is less than 1. If we add that a high percentage of the population is vaccinated or has suffered from the disease, we can say that, for one year the concept of a pandemic mutated. It is no longer the covid-19 infecting the unprotected.

“I think,” said the expert who works at the Italian Hospital, “that we should talk about covid-22 and the ‘pandemic mode’ has already been”. For Cámera “we are in an epipandemic, with a situation of people who get SARS-Cov-2 again, but who go through it with minor symptoms.”

The current model suggests that we will continue to have outbreaks, but that they will be short and cause symptoms similar to, or milder than, a complaint. That as long as the infected person is immunized with the vaccines and reinforcements. In addition, everything indicates that they must be, at least, bivalent.

According to Cámera, “we could say that today almost the entire population of Western countries, around 95%, had at least one episode and almost all of them are re-infected. This also adds to the fact that the mortality rate is low and it has become a disease with few complications.

In fact, in recent months, Europe and the US once again registered high mortality from respiratory diseases. But the analyzes showed that it was due to influenza and respiratory syncytial disease, which is now also descending into the elderly. In other words, the covid is currently associated with a mortality lower than that of the complaint.

What will happen to the vaccine?

—We will have to give ourselves an annual reinforcement, of some bivalent. should be added to the mandatory calendar and it may be necessary to prioritize which risk groups to offer them since it may not be necessary to vaccinate the entire population, as it is now.

—What did we learn from the pandemic?

—From this contemporary catastrophe, doctors learned to better manage patients and the logistics of professional practice. Also to coordinate the efforts of the teams. And we improve epidemiology issues. For example, we verified that the mortality records of many countries –even developed ones– were very bad. Argentina had errors close to 10%, but in Canada or the US, they reached 30%.

“Did we leave something out?”

—I think we missed a great opportunity to rethink public health issues. For example, there is no longer talk of improving ventilation systems for closed environments where people gather or how to make the use of quality air filters more accessible and universal. If we could change these things, not only would there be less covid, but other respiratory infectious diseases would also decrease.


◆ The pandemic was the biggest health crisis in the last hundred years.

◆ 95% of the Argentine population has already been infected or received their vaccines and reinforcements.

◆ The coronavirus caused more than 130,000 disappearances in Argentina.

◆ There was a lack of social and economic recognition for the medical community that was in the front row during the months of crisis.

◆ At least 41 million Argentines starting their vaccination scheme.

◆ A group of researchers from Conicet is doing phase II/III of a vaccine.

Everything that could have been done differently

Something that Cámera sadly highlights is that “here and in the world, doctors and the health community did not receive the social –or economic– recognition they deserved for having been in the front row. In fact, that has led many workers and colleagues today to be walking away from the profession. This, which was debited, was not an exclusive issue of a government, but the one who did not specify that recognition that many of us expected was society”.

On the other hand, it is striking that there were many signs in the last three shines that a pandemic could arrive. “But we don’t take it seriously. If we had, vaccines could have appeared much sooner. It also happened that certain institutions found it difficult to change their paradigms, as happened with the WHO and its vision of the form of contagion. It seems to me that by a certain corporate “ego” they failed to rise to the occasion and it took too long to accept that the evidence pointed to something else. From there we have to learn something for the future”.

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