The Drip, Drip, Drip of Covid-19 Anecdata

Deepti Pradhan
6 min readApr 12, 2021

Scientific research and clinical findings often encounter the Godzilla of anecdata that has the potential to wreak havoc. Consequently, responsible and complete communication of research data becomes paramount — particularly in a pandemic.

Data as of April 11, 2021 from Our World In Data

The Covid-19 pandemic is continuing unabated, with global case numbers conservatively at 83.5 cases per million people. Last year, on April 11 it was 10 cases per million people, and we heard from almost every head of state that the virus would be vanquished in short order. But here we are, a year later with more variants than you could count on one hand, bustling about from country to country, human to human.

The rapidity at which the science of SARS-CoV-2 has unfolded is matched only by the ability of the virus to accumulate mutations. Scientists from across the world have developed partnerships to conduct basic research on this virus; and clinicians have continued to provide the best possible care and advice to those hit by the virus. Clinical observations have also helped shape basic research so as to make the outcomes most effective in the shortest amount of time. All this has culminated in a number of different vaccines and vaccine candidates to crush this pandemic at a pace that surprises, and would have impressed even Maurice Hilleman (Hilleman is credited with developing more than 40 vaccines, including those that prevent measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and chickenpox).

The pandemic will not be crushed by vaccine alone

A quick look at the history of pandemics tells us that there is no single approach to crush a pandemic. In fact for any disease outbreak, even those that are not pandemics, a multi-pronged approach is essential. Some of this is warranted by the very nature of how humans respond at a time like this — very few will embrace every tool that is made available.

For the current pandemic, while vaccines are the most valuable tool we have because they confer longer term protection, vaccine distribution and accessibility has been unequal — both across countries, and within them. Further, vaccine hesitancy is very real and has existed well before the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a 2014 report from the Strategic Advisory…

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Deepti Pradhan

Employed at Yale University, Deepti is primarily a scientist & patient advocate. She runs Tilde Cafe, a forum to make science accessible (www.tildecafe.org)