The pandemic in the context of university centers – 20/09/2021 – Opinion

Covid-19 changed the routine of the planet, brought panic, staggering numbers of deaths and uncertainty about how the world will be going forward. It will remain in the collective memory for a long time as the worst health disaster of the last century.

If this is the dismal scenario observed since the beginning of 2020, the positive side is that the scientific community reacted in an agile, precise and assertive way. Research has gained incredible speed, which is why vaccines are already a reality, even though it is still necessary to maintain hygiene measures and the use of masks to prevent the contamination and spread of the new coronavirus.

The fact is that Covid-19, most likely, is here to stay. Thus, we will all have to deal with another infectious disease in our daily lives, with annual mass vaccination campaigns. With the advance of immunization, the trend is that, from a pandemic, the disease will be reclassified in the future as an endemic by the WHO (World Health Organization). The virus will continue to circulate, but not with the current strength and with much lower rates of hospitalizations and deaths.

It is interesting to observe the context of the pandemic in research and teaching centers, and the unequivocal contribution that institutions such as Fiocruz, Butantan, USP, Unifesp, Unicamp and UnB, among others, have been making to fight the disease.

The ABC Faculty of Medicine University Center (FMABC) has provided relevant services to combat Covid-19 in the ABC region of São Paulo, where approximately 2.8 million people live.

Since mid-March 2020, the FMABC clinical analysis laboratory has been carrying out tests of the ​Sars-CoV-2 to monitor the circulation of the virus in the region, being also a reference for the entire district of São Mateus, in the far east of the region. Sao Paulo City.

In April, the peak of the pandemic in the country, 2,400 tests were carried out daily, with up to 60% of positive cases. With the expansion of those vaccinated, this number dropped to 600 processes per day and 11%, on average, of positivity.

In this second semester, FMABC takes another leap and starts to offer genomic sequencing for the detection of variants of the new coronavirus, something essential to guide public policies to fight Sars-CoV-2.

Scientific research and free assistance to patients are also within the scope of the essential activities carried out by the center. Since the beginning of vaccination, FMABC has been monitoring the immune response against the virus of all immunized health professionals and students.

A survey carried out by the center found that the vaccination of 1,128 workers (just under 50% of the total public on campus) with Coronavac or Astrazeneca reduced the number of positive cases among those who attend the site by 78.3%. There was also a 41% decrease in demand for RT-PCR tests offered at the clinic.

These results showed that, even vaccinating a population with high exposure to the risk of contamination, there was a significant reduction in positivity among those tested, in addition to being possible to prove the effectiveness of immunizers comparable to data from vaccination studies carried out in the cities of Serrana and Botucatu, in São Paulo.

The study that proved the safety of breastfeeding also departed from the university center, with no evidence of transmission of Sars-CoV-2 through breastfeeding.

Earlier this year, FMABC implemented an outpatient clinic for post-Covid patients, with the aim of verifying and treating the sequelae caused by the disease. Fifteen biomarkers were defined to assess possible clinical changes in people who were infected by the virus and recovered.

There are still countless challenges that await us until the pandemic is, in fact, brought under control.
Research and scientific teaching promoted by university centers must follow alerts to provide highly effective tools, aiming to contain the spread of the virus, minimize suffering and save lives.

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