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Q & A with Epidemiologist Joseph Magoola on the COVID-19 pandemic

How different is this challenge from others before it like responding to Ebola?

Well, COVID19—unlike previous epidemics of Ebola, Marburg, Cholera—causes a lot of asymptomatic infections that do not require hospitalization, yet they continue to spread the virus. As a result, some populations do not believe it is real, and hence are sceptical to follow the recommended public health control measures. 

How do you rate the global response?  

This has been remarkable, as countries swiftly deployed health systems and resources to control the pandemic, the highlights being COVID19 restrictions as well as the vaccines that have been rolled out. 

How easy or hard will it be to contain this pandemic and what needs to be done? 

While vaccination has been shown to be effective, access is still limited and Africa is being left behind. So we need to increase enforcement of public health guidelines, such as wearing a mask, hand washing and importantly, ensure that vaccines are accessible specially to most-at-risk populations. 

What lessons do we pick from this pandemic for the future? 

The central response to epidemics—surveillance and containment, when instituted promptly and rapidly—has been found to be effective to controlling almost any microbial threat. So countries need to continue to focus on building optimum surveillance and response systems.

Chat with Joseph @jmagoola