While the pandemic has raged across the world for nine long months, countries with high case numbers are still unable to figure out how and where people contract the virus.
Covid-19 has killed 1.3 million people around the world and new cases have now touched the 60 million mark. Nine months have passed since the world fell into the grip of the deadly pandemic and yet scientists are still to understand just how the virus moves from one body to another and where exactly people become exposed to it besides the officially declared hotspots.
The mysterious virus has continued to have many unknowns, not only for its origins but also the way it travels, according to data from some developed countries where both the infection and fatality rate is high.
Developed countries like France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the US, whose cases nearly account for one-third of the total virus cases across the world, have acknowledged that they do not know where most people become infected.
Germany, credited by health authorities and scientists for fighting the virus effectively by implementing the right measures at the right time and doing as many tests as possible, is also struggling to know how to circumvent the Covid-19's spread.
Berlin says that it does not know where three quarters of its people, who have recently tested positive, had become infected by the virus.
Other countries are also not in a position to identify the source of the infections.
The Spanish health ministry says that it’s just able to report 7 percent of positive cases that were tested in late October. Spain has the sixth biggest number of Covid-19 infections, with 1,589,219 people having tested positive.
In both France and Italy, two countries that have each lost circa 50,000 citizens to Covid-19, only 20 percent of cases have been identified.
The US continues to have the largest number of cases despite having seen a record number of 250,000 people succumb to the virus. Contact tracing has not been any better there either.
For instance, in New York City, a prominent American virus hotspot, health authorities were only able to identify 20 percent of the cases.
“The vast majority of the remainder — somewhere probably around 50 percent or more — we don’t have a way to directly attribute their source of infection. And that’s a concern,” said Jay Varma, a senior health adviser to the city’s municipality.
Being a superpower no match for the super pandemic
So far, global powerhouses such as America and Germany have failed to keep a tab on the virus’ routes and avenues. The rest of the world might have even fewer clues.
Why can't governments arrest the spread of the virus? The reasons vary.
Firstly, the virus mainly kills the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Even then, it can remain passive inside a healthy human body until passing onto another which then becomes vulnerable to its lethal invasion. In most cases, victims of this deadly virus have apparently contracted the virus from asymptomatic carriers, which makes the tracing an extremely difficult task for health workers and governments across the world.
Secondly, the virus remains dormant for weeks and shows its symptoms late. As a result, it tricks people into thinking they are Covid-19 free, discouraging them to report themselves to health authorities. Amidst this ambiguity, the virus thrives, infecting others who come into contact with its carrier in social gatherings. This is largely the reason behind imposed restrictions on outings to restaurants, cafes, offices and other such social places.
Thirdly, due to financial strains, a considerable number of people cannot afford to go for testing despite displaying concerning symptoms. In many cases, they have become super spreaders.
In view of all these factors, humanity has come to a point where acts like shaking hands, hugging or even coming close to another human being could prove fatal. People are exposed to the virus everywhere: it could be on a bus or inside a restaurant, a school or an office.
The unpredictable nature of the virus has made the second Covid-19 wave more dangerous than the one that wreaked its global havoc back in March this year. The unidentifiable path of the virus has compelled governments across the world to impose another round of lockdowns and endure massive economic damage in return.
There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, however. The world is preparing for the groundbreaking introduction of three possible Covid-19 vaccines. The Pfizer/BioNTech formula, which is the result of the work of a German couple of Turkish-origin, is 95 percent effective in combating the virus, according to scientists familiar with its trial runs.