Though it feels like we have been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for months, we are still very much in the thick of it and the US has begun to prepare for the storm before the calm.
Health systems have made a point to emphasize that this particular crisis will get a lot worse before it gets any better.
Thankfully the pillars that will expedite this outcome are themselves gaining momentum.
Social distancing and routine testing are decreasing transmission rates while experimental therapeutics are giving those already infected with SARS-Cov-2 a fighting chance at recovery.
Of course, when we talk about recovery on a national and global scale we have to dramatically adjust our expectations. There have already been too many losses for a clean win to be plausible.
More than 30% of the population will face unemployment on our own shores, consumer confidence will continue to tumble into the summer months. Evercore is projecting a 50 percent drop in GDP this quarter, and 93,639 people have died around the world as a result of the worst pandemic since the H1N1 Crisis of 1918.
Even after the SARS-Cov-2 growth curve has been successfully suppressed, communities won’t feel safe again until there is an evidenced barrier between themselves and the virus’s potential.
“The vaccine is critical, because, until you have that, things aren’t really going to be normal,” philanthropist and activist, Bill Gates told Woodruff earlier this week. “They can open up to some degree, but the risk of a rebound will be there until we have very broad vaccination.I put $3 trillion for a respiratory virus spreading around the globe. And, you know, clearly we’re going to go well beyond that. You know, the whole goal of speaking out then wasn’t to be able to say, I told you so when it happened. Rather, it was to make sure we did the right thing, so that diagnostics would come out right away, the timeline for a vaccine would be very short.”
If all the necessary interventions are imposed Gates posits that things won’t return to normal until the Fall of 2021.
In addition to antigen research, the magnate believes improved surveillance tactics will have to be initiated. Without easily accessible COVID-19 tests researchers have had a difficult time identifying vulnerable populations.
“Having a Web site where you enter in the criteria of your symptoms, are you an essential worker, where you are, and it gives you back a priority level, and so all the testing operations make sure that they’re only taking in enough high-priority stuff, that they can maintain a very quick turnaround, so you don’t have stale results,” Gates continued. “In parallel, we have got to go as fast as we can on therapeutics and go as fast as we can on a vaccine, because therapeutics can save a lot of lives and avoid the overload. And, with luck, some of those will be promising in the next three to six months.”
A massive study conducted on Ohio based medical facilities, for instance, lengthened our data set with several key substrates that influence case severity, recovery time and viral clearance in patients who endure COVID-19 symptoms for weeks at a time.
Similarly, after including patients who experience mild to moderate COVID-19 into the global mortality rate, it actually dropped exponentially.
That said, the longer this phenomenon isn’t dealt with the longer burgeoning crises stew on the back-burner. All of our economic, medical and academic resources are currently occupied by the same disaster; dialysis patients still need care, cardiovascular disease remains a prevalent killer, suicide rates are still rising and lower and middle class Americans are still square pegs falling off round holes.
“You know, there are things like polio eradication that, you know, was — we were — we felt like we’re making progress on that. This is going to be an unbelievable setback for that,” Gates concluded. “The foundation is scrambling, because it has a lot of the key understandings and relationships to accelerate some of these solutions. But our normal work is suffering. And you just look at people who are isolated at home or, you know, overcrowded in their home, or kids who are going to lose three months of learning, the amount of pain involved in this thing is gigantic. And, you know, so it’s deeply troubling, but we need to still act to minimize all of that.”