Naresh firstly discussed the death rate from Covid-19. Looking at The Diamond Princess and Iceland where test rates were high, he ascertained that the death rate is actually somewhere between 0.5% and 1.5%. He argued that some of the stats being seen elsewhere were misrepresentative as there is a gap in testing. For example, in the UK they are only really testing people who are going into hospital, so they’re missing all the mild and asymptomatic cases. On the Diamond Princess, the statistics showed how valuable social distancing was in minimising the R0. Looking at this death rate he asked the question of what is the justifiable economic costs of these lockdowns? Naresh suggests that it’s now hard to justify the economic damage caused by the lockdown when you look at the relatively low number of deaths. He emphasized that lockdown was important to ascertain whether we had adequate healthcare infrastructure in place and to minimise panic, but that going forward it is now time to reopen the economy.
Secondly, his analysis looked at herd immunity and mentioned that the current level of herd immunity in the community is low single digits at best. The treatments that are currently on offer are only for patients who have been hospitalised, there is nothing available as a preventative or prophylactic treatment. Therefore we will need to wait for vaccine to detain this virus, as in order to keep R0 below one you would need two thirds of the population to be immune to the virus, especially with the uncertainty surrounding reinfection and immune response. To ensure a reduction in the death rate, we need to improve care for the elderly and vulnerable and ensure that they are shielded for probably the next 18 months.
Naresh went on to discuss the mitigating factors, the possibility of compulsory health passports to ensure free movement of healthy people and contact tracing for people who have caught the virus. He believes that the closing of borders helps with containment of the disease, as many countries who have seen a resurgence of the virus, e.g. China and Singapore, have seen this as a result of reinfection and not reseeding. He is predicting a return to office working shortly, albeit with social distancing in place and perhaps proportional office working on a rotation in order to help track infections.
Intron Health’s research going forward is going to be focussed on reinfection and what that means for immunity, because their analysis suggests that if we have 20-40% immunity in the community that should lead to relatively unrestricted movement and economic activity.
Naresh discussed Glaxo, Sanofi and Gilead.