Story at a glance
- Speaking at a conference, infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci says that the U.S. has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, but that it will eventually control the spread of COVID-19.
- He stressed the need for better pandemic plans in the future.
Nearing 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the U.S. leads the world in coronavirus cases. With the country suffering in terms of public health and economics, emerging from the pandemic is the U.S.’s singular goal.
Unfortunately, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s lead infectious disease expert and voice of the pandemic response, says the country isn’t at the end of the game.
“I don't want to get too cute about it, but certainly we are not winning the game right now,” he said in an interview hosted by the TB Alliance, a nonprofit that focuses on the development of advanced treatments for tuberculosis, another lung disease.
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“The United States has actually got hit harder than any other country from the standpoint of number of cases and deaths per country,” he said. Reopening states and cities, however, depends on controlling outbreaks.
“The thing that is somewhat concerning is that we all try to open up, not only in the United States, but other countries to reopen your country again for economic and other reasons, and we have found as we're experiencing right now in the Southern states that as you do that, we're seeing resurgences of cases which means we've got to do much better in controlling the outbreak in general. But also, particularly as we try to reopen.”
As he had previously explained, the coronavirus pandemic is the perfect storm, due to its highly transmissible characteristics and broad range of outcomes in patients.
Despite the U.S.’s failures at recovering from the pandemic and preventing its spread, Fauci is once again cautiously optimistic that the country will reign it in this year or the next, ideally with herd immunity and treatments.
“I think we ultimately will get control of it.... with a combination of good public health measures. A degree of global herd immunity and a good vaccine which I do hope and feel cautiously optimistic that we will get,” he posited. “We may not eradicate it, but I think we will bring it down to such a low level that we will not be in the position that we're in right now for an extended period of time.”
For future outbreaks, Fauci says preparedness is the key, regardless of the medicine developed to treat COVID-19, noting that new infectious diseases won’t end with the coronavirus.
“No matter how good we are...the lessons you learn is you've got to prepare. The fundamental, basic and clinical research, as well as the public health endeavors to know that you should anticipate that you will be confronted with novel infectious diseases as we go on.”
Having plenty of emergency preparation equipment, like PPE, and better testing infrastructure are two instances of preparedness. Developing better platform technologies to accelerate vaccine developments and improve the public's capability to respond. Having a unified approach among political leadership that supports public health is also ideal.
“We do not forget that when we get through this, which we will get through it, that we know that it will happen again.”
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