The features of COVID-19 and the outlook for dealing with the virus were the topic June 3 in the second seminar in the Webinar Series that Yonsei School of Business and Yonsei Business Research Institute launched this semester. The goal was to help a wider audience understand the worldwide impact of the pandemic and to foster development of ways to deal with social and economic turmoil it has created.
Professor Hyukmin Lee of the Yonsei University Department of Laboratory Medicine spoke during the seminar on the “Clinical Features and Future Prospects of COVID-19.” The webinar was hosted by YSB Professor Jun Kyung Auh.
COVID-19, which first appeared in December 2019, has become a pandemic impacting all aspects of human society. It is one of several coronaviruses, so named because under magnification they have a crown shape. The virus spreads primarily through airborne droplets that are smaller than air molecules. Although it is believed to have originated in bats and birds, COVID-19 was present in numerous wild animals before it was passed on to humans.
Professor Lee noted that the most frightening feature of COVID-19 is its capability for asymptomatic infection, which complicates detection of carriers and control of the spreading of the virus. In order to minimize the damage caused by COVID-19, it is very important to reduce the overall number of confirmed infections through social distancing and proactive diagnosis procedures. However, diagnosis is a passive method that can only be done after a patient is infected. Professor Lee expressed his concern that although a vaccine will ultimately be needed to deal with the pandemic, there is no good news on that front as yet.
[From left: Professor Hyukmin Lee lectures about the pandemic and, right, a screenshot of seminar materials]
Can we go back to the pre-COVID-19 era?
Professor Lee suggested four conditions necessary for a return to a pre-COVID-19 lifestyle. The first is when COVID-19 infections are extinguished through various coordinated approaches. The second is when a cure or vaccine is developed—which is unlikely for a while. The third is when a social consensus develops to bear the sacrifices necessary to develop group immunity. The fourth is when COVID-19 mutates into a simpler form similar to a simple cold.
However, because all four conditions are either socially controversial or cannot be realized immediately, he said, we have no choice but to continue to maintain social distancing and quarantines.
Professor Lee concluded by emphasizing the need for numerous changes in social structure, lifestyles, and personal habits to improve the implementation of strategies to control the virus.