Three days after a contentious presidential debate, several members of the Trump administration and three GOP senators have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
In the weeks leading up to this development, public health services expressed concern over a potential third wave of COVID-19 transmissions.
According to recent data, a confluence of early errors put the US in a steepening uphill battle to contain COVID-19 outbreaks, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Not long after SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks began, pharmaceutical companies took to the internet to push supplements purported to reduce disease severity. Manufacturers began selling counterfeit respirators. Campaign ads claimed ignorance and hospitality industries re-opened prematurely, which put under-represented communities at risk.
Delayed intervention and virus reproduction rate
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, academicians contended that masks were only necessary for health care providers. In fact, during a segment on 60 Minutes filmed six months ago, Dr. Fauci said squarely, “People should not be walking around with masks in America.”
While some believe that this risk assessment was a flat out lie meant to prevent a shortage of medical supplies for those frequently exposed to coronavirus, others hold a limited data set responsible. In any case, many people died as a result.
Around this time, The World Health Organization estimated that the average number of new cases caused by an infected individual was around 2.2. It has since been revealed that this figure was closer to 4.5. The organization offered comparably faulty data with respect to COVID-19’s mortality rate.
Reasoned analysis suggests that all quick, neat courses to normalcy are now closed to us.
The national response was simply too slow to enact meaningful reductions to cases numbers before the development of a vaccine. As it stands, most states (and many countries for that matter) were unable to keep SARS-CoV-2’s basic reproduction rate below 1.1 long enough for countermeasures to be effective.
“These numbers confirm that we only had a small window of time to act, and unfortunately that’s not what happened in most countries,” write the authors of a new Duke University study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE “Being able to estimate transmission rates at different phases of a disease’s spread and under different conditions helps identify the timing and type of interventions that may work best, the hospital capacity we’ll need, and other critical considerations.”
The report goes on to call some key theories into question, namely herd immunity and seasonal suppression.
For herd immunity to work in a given population, 78% of the members that staff it need to be protected against a pathogen.
In order to gauge the plausibility of this objective, the researchers employed a conventional “susceptible-infectious-removed” (SIR) mathematical model between January and March 2020 in 57 countries.
Before a followup review, they controlled for both symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers.
The findings revealed that municipalities essentially had 20 days to implement non-clinical interventions to curve COVID-19’s exponential growth curve.
The trouble is there weren’t any interventions that were adhered to uniformly. Moreover, COVID-19 severity is still difficult to anticipate to this day.
So if interventions are introduced late, and only a portion of the population follow them, and only a portion of this portion remains asymptomatic all the way through viral clearance, how much can these interventions actually accomplish in the grand scheme of things?
The vast majority of the 57 countries involved in the new study allowed the coronaviruses’ RO to remain above 2.7 for at least 44 days before countermeasures gained momentum.
There are two senators on the judiciary committee out sick with COVID-19 at the present; less than 30 days before the general election and months since a major stimulus relief.
Fortunately, there is enough literature on the novel coronavirus’ pathology to ensure safety on an individual level. Social distancing, double layer cotton-masks/N-95, and increased testing are formidable tools at our disposal.
“The best defense against uncontrolled future outbreaks is to put stringent safety protocols in place at the first sign of an outbreak and make use of the tools science has provided us,” the authors conclude.