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Research on the first 100 days of anti-epidemic is proposed for the Ta Quang Buu Prize

The work of Dr. BS Pham Quang Thai provides the earliest information on the epidemic and evidence of infection, contributing to the adjustment of the Covid-19 prevention strategy in Vietnam.

In the middle of 2020, when the world still did not understand much about the new strain of corona virus that caused the Covid-19 epidemic, Dr. BS Pham Quang Thai, Deputy Head of the Department of Infectious Disease Control, Central Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, and his colleagues, provides important evidence that the virus is easily transmitted from person to person and at an early, asymptomatic stage. At that time, apart from a few articles from China where the first cases were detected, no country had yet given a full picture of the pandemic as well as such a specific prevention plan. This research has just been nominated for the Main Prize – Ta Quang Buu Award 2022.

Dr. BS Pham Quang Thai at the office at the Department of Infectious Disease Control, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

Dr. BS Pham Quang Thai at the office, Department of Infectious Disease Control, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology. Image: NQ

Dr. Thai’s research looks back at the results of the first 100 days of controlling the Covid-19 epidemic in Vietnam, analyzing relevant factors and giving lessons learned in the fight against the epidemic. The team analyzed clinical and demographic data on the first 270 infections, as well as government control measures, including the number of tests, isolated cases. To estimate population mobility, the team used cellular data provided by Apple and Google. They also used the data to estimate the rate of asymptomatic infections, the extent of transmission, and to estimate different values ​​of the outbreak number (R0).

These results have great implications for estimating the transmission cycle as well as the size of the epidemic in the future. As a result, the scale of the epidemic in Da Nang in the second wave of Covid-19 in Vietnam as well as in Hai Duong in early 2021 can estimate the extent and scope of infection.

The study provides important evidence in concluding that the disease can be transmitted from infected but asymptomatic individuals. Thai said, at the beginning of the pandemic, people only thought that the disease was transmitted from animals to humans and transmitted in people with symptoms. But with the experience of directly participating in the fight against the SARS epidemic in 2003, he quickly compared these two viruses. He said when the SARS epidemic appeared, the route of infection was mainly through droplets, air-conditioning closed spaces with a mortality rate as high as 20%. The virus has a high mortality rate and clear symptoms, SARS cannot cause a pandemic. But SARS-CoV-2 is different.

At a time when WHO was still slow to come up with a way to transmit the virus, that message changed the opinion of the scientific community as well as the work of isolation and epidemic control. “Understanding how the virus is transmitted and the nature of the virus makes an important contribution to science because without knowing the infectivity, it is not possible to develop a response strategy,” said Dr. Thai. VnExpress.

The work immediately attracted attention when published in the leading journal of infectious diseases Clinical Infectious Diseases (America). The study was also cited 66 times in articles published in scientific journals and repeated in international media such as: CNN, BBC, The Washington Post… as a success of the anti-epidemic strategy in Vietnam.

At that time, the research team’s findings made a great contribution to epidemic prevention and control, such as changing the screening strategy at the airport: controlling people moving by air, border, careful isolation, review. test instead of just measuring body temperature. Thanks to careful tracing work combined with strict quarantine and international travel restrictions, it helped Vietnam control the epidemic safely in the first year, before the arrival of the Delta strain and access to the virus. get the vaccine.

At the first stage, Dr. Thai described, Vietnam was in a position of “without weapons in hand”. For comparison, the UK and Germany have 20,000 ventilators and a team of experts to operate them, while Vietnam has less than 3,000 maximum mobilized ventilators. That is not to mention the problem of the lack of specialists to operate the machines, so even with the use of ventilators, the mortality rate is still high. “Without a vaccine, we have no choice but to implement a zero Covid-19 strategy to prevent spread and death,” he said.

“No other country has been as aggressive in tracing as Vietnam,” said Dr. Thai, adding that the stories they experienced will be “written into memoirs”.

He told about a time to trace an aircraft, when detecting the first case, the tracing team immediately searched for the fastest passenger book to prevent the epidemic from occurring in the community. They found almost all passengers but missed 4 people – the group that is most at risk by sitting near the positive case. Because these passengers did not declare their route, the tracking team only managed to find the first hotel and then lost track. Based on the passenger’s name information, the task force found facebook and thanks to the clip of him showing off the swimming pool with the logo of a hotel opposite, the tracing team found the passenger. The reason for the quick tracing is thanks to an effective preventive health network, from the Central to 63 CDCs in the country and to each commune and ward, along with the unanimous support of the people.

Sharing via email, Prof. Peter Horby, a leading professor of epidemiology at Oxford University, said he knew Dr. BS Pham Quang Thai in 2003 when he joined the SARS investigation team coordinated by WHO and the Institute of Health. The Central Epidemiology Department conducted an investigation. When he joined the Clinical Research Unit of Oxford University, Dr. Thai graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Bergen (Norway) in 2005. “We jointly organized a research project. flu in Vietnam and that project has been going on since 2006 until now,” he said.

Professor Peter Horby said that they worked together and participated in many scientific research projects, including dozens of articles published in international journals and scientific articles published at conferences. international reputation. “Dr Thai’s research focuses on infectious disease surveillance, epidemiological characterization of epidemics, and modeling and control measures,” he said.

Thai doctor joined the rapid response team to investigate and respond to many diseases across the country, from 2000 to present. He directly participated in the fight against the SARS epidemic in 2003; investigating avian flu epidemics from 2003-2015, and at the same time monitoring vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, Japanese encephalitis, etc. He has been directly involved in the prevention of Covid-19 since the early years of the pandemic. On the first day, he took up the position of deputy leader of the Rapid Response Information Team under the National Steering Committee for Epidemic Prevention and Control since March 2000 with many proposals of scientific and practical value.

Thai said that in the coming time, the group will continue to study measures to safely adapt, prevent as well as prevent potential risks of disease in the future.

This year’s Ta Quang Biao Award has three nominations main prize belongs to the work of Prof. Dr. Ngo Viet Trung, Institute of Mathematics, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Le Thu, University of Science and Technology, Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, in the field of chemistry. Dr. Pham Quang Thai, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (Ministry of Health) in the field of Biomedicine and Pharmacology.

Two nominations Young Award belongs to Dr. Doan Le Hoang Tan, Research Center for Nanostructured and Molecular Materials, Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, in the field of Physics. Dr. Tran Tien Anh, Vietnam Maritime University, field of science, engineering and technology.

Since 2014, the Ta Quang Buu Prize has been organized annually by the Ministry of Science and Technology to honor scientists with outstanding results in basic research in the fields of natural sciences and engineering. contribute to promoting Vietnam’s science and technology integration and development. The award is named after the late Professor Ta Quang Buu – one of the people who laid the foundation in the construction and development of basic science fields in Vietnam.

After 8 years of organization, there have been 16 scientists who are the authors of excellent scientific works and 4 young scientists have been awarded the Ta Quang Buu Prize. In 2021 alone, no scientists will receive this Prize.

Nhu Quynh

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