It seems notable that some sections of the population almost never get the most serious symptoms
We are close to understanding which conditions predispose people to get the most critical form of Covid-19 – although, sadly, there is still no clear explanation of why ethnic minorities should be affected so disproportionately. We know about the risks of heart disease, dementia and chronic respiratory illness, and we are aware of how much more common those are in older age groups.
But that is only half the story of this epidemic. Perhaps now it would be helpful to examine the reasons why some sections of the population almost never get the most serious symptoms.
Looking at the graphs of death figures even as they decline, it is obvious how heavily they are weighted towards the elderly, especially the over-eighties. Then there is a tranche of middle-aged victims, the overwhelming majority of whom had underlying health conditions. But when you reach the figure for those of 30 and below, the number of cases becomes vanishingly small – so infinitesimal that it scarcely registers a visible mark on the charts. Why should this be?
538prom精品视频在线播放It might be assumed that the young are generally healthier and more robust – particularly aerobically – than their elders. But this is not what we have been told for some time now.
There is a visible epidemic of child obesity. The young are more likely to smoke, abuse drugs and drink to excess than the old. This generation of young people are not, relatively speaking, a very healthy population.
But even if you assume that they are, for the most part, stronger and fitter than the old and middle-aged, the dramatic drop in numbers at their end of the graph is remarkable. For some reason that nobody appeared to be examining (at least publicly), perhaps because everyone was so profoundly grateful for the fact, people under about 30 seem to be extraordinarily resistant.
This has not been the case with many earlier epidemics: the Spanish flu of 1918 struck younger people especially hard, and the devastating post-war polio epidemics hit primarily children and young adults. So there is nothing natural or even predictable about this exemption of the young from mortal danger.
538prom精品视频在线播放As I stared at those figures, it occurred to me to wonder what that group of under-thirties might have in common. So I looked up the year in which the combined MMR vaccination was introduced. It was 1988. That means that almost everyone born in the UK from then until now (which is to say, from the age of 32 downwards) will have received the vaccine.
538prom精品视频在线播放Is it conceivable that the MMR offers some degree of protection against the severe form of Covid-19? Has this possibility been officially considered? I put this question to spokesmen at the Department for Health. At the time of writing I have received no answer. But in the past week, a team of Cambridge scientists, in a paper not yet published or peer-reviewed, has suggested precisely such a connection.
Matt Hancock may have got a fistful of headlines by announcing the development of a brand new vaccine coming out of Oxford, which will start testing on humans today, But if the MMR vaccine hypothesis were proved to be sound, we could presumably increase the production of it immediately and possibly better protect the entire population in weeks. Imagine that.