‘There is a big risk for 2nd wave of COVID19, all countries must be ready’ – WHO Mission member says
YEREVAN, JULY 29, ARMENPRESS. Vasily Esenamanov, Emergency Preparedness Program Coordinator at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Office in South Caucasus, says the second wave of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will take place, and everyone must be ready for that.
Vasily Esenamanov arrived in Armenia together with the WHO mission at the invitation of the Armenian minister of healthcare.
He gave an interview to ARMENPRESS, stating that even those countries, which show declining signs in new confirmed cases, should not weaken their vigilance.
- Mr. Esenamanov, it’s already a month you are in Yerevan. How would you assess the preparedness level of Armenia’s healthcare system in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic?
- Thank you for the question. In fact, this question is relevant for many other countries as many states were not sufficiently ready for a new virus, like COVID-19. Even the World Health Organization could not predict that coronavirus will reach such scales. No one could predict that so many infectious diseases hospitals, hospital beds, ventilators would be needed, and no country was ready for this. From this perspective, if we consider Armenia’s preparedness level, it isn’t so different from the preparedness level of any other country. Looking at how the government responded to the pandemic, I can say that it showed quite a rational approach to the issue, the ministry of healthcare assessed the existing opportunities, that it is possible to further increase and strengthen them both in a short-run and long-run. Taking into account all of these possible means, more optimal decisions were made.
- Is there anything you would like to change in Armenia for running a more effective fight against COVID-19?
- When I was planning to visit Armenia, I was thinking that some actions would have been taken, I would propose several other options, but when I came to Armenia I understood that the government has considered all possible options, therefore I would not make any serious change. The WHO urges all countries to increase the number of tests, enhance the systems of detecting infected people, as well as it is also necessary to continue the isolation process.
- As for the second wave of the pandemic, can the countries, which have already announced overcoming the virus, be calm or can they face the second wave of the virus as well?
- It’s difficult to speak on what it means that the countries have successfully overcome the coronavirus. There are some countries where the number of daily confirmed cases has declined, but when these countries mitigated the restrictions, we saw that outbreaks grow. This happened in Germany and Spain. This is a very big problem. As a WHO, we do not advice any country to weaken the vigilance. All countries must be ready for the second wave because it will happen. It will start in autumn, in line with certain changes in weather conditions. Societies should get used to living in a new reality because the virus will still exist. There are great hopes with the vaccine, however, time will still be needed for it to be ready and be used.
- Many people are interested in whether it’s possible to get infected with COVID-19 for the second time? How long can a person will safe if he has been infected and has already recovered?
- It’s very difficult to give a concrete answer to this question. We have cases in the world practice when a person has been infected for the second time shortly after being discharged from hospital and passing two PCR tests the results of which were negative. All these depend on the immune system, on how long it resists and when it is formed in a person who has been infected and has already recovered. This is a major issue, and only the research can give an answer, but time is needed. We are dealing with this virus for about half a year, which is a small period of time for giving a scientific and medical conclusion about a new type of a virus.
- When will the clinical trials of the vaccine end? When will the first vaccine be ready?
- At this moment there are several vaccines which are at the clinical trial stage. They have been selected from nearly 100 vaccine types. Their examinations have recorded certain efficiency. The effectiveness of a vaccine depends on how long it takes for the immune system to develop. Antibodies may die, for instance, a month later, such a vaccine cannot be effective because we cannot vaccinate most of the planet’s population and do that once a month or once every three months. This is unrealistic. A great team is working at the WHO over the issue of vaccines, but at this moment it’s very difficult to say when the vaccine will be ready.
- Let’s talk about the necessity of wearing masks. Is there a difference between medical, respirator and home-made masks?
- Of course, there is a difference between them, but each of them is for concrete cases. For instance, respirator masks are used exclusively in hospitals and concrete cases, medical masks firstly need the healthcare workers, and also the patients who communicate with the doctors. As for the ordinary people, they do not need to wear respirator or medical masks, the home-made masks are enough.
- What will be you call to the people who do not believe in the existence of the virus?
- I am surprised that people do not believe in the existence of the virus. When an ordinary consumer is expressing his/her negative opinion over the existence of the virus, this is very surprising to me because with the same logic I can question the existence of Australia as I have never been in Australia and can state that it doesn’t exist as I haven’t seen it. The virus really exists. It’s terrible that some people do not believe in that. I hope the number of such people is less in Armenia. We visited the hospitals in Armenia which deal only with the treatment of coronavirus patients and saw how overloaded they were. I call on Armenia’s population to cooperate with the government by following the anti-coronavirus rules. People’s lives depend on everyone’s behavior.
- Thank you for the interview.
Interview by Norayr Shoghikyan
Photos by Tatev Duryan
Editing and Translating by Aneta Harutyunyan