We Should Not Still Be Here

The United States should be at a completely different phase of the pandemic right now

Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog
Jul 22, 2020

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Credit: the_burtons / Getty Images

There’s no reason we should still be experiencing this crisis in the United States. Six months in, we should still not be here. The crisis should not be going on this long. This doesn’t mean we should have eradicated the virus by now, but it does mean we should have contained it.

Before summarizing what I heard from experts, think on these questions. If I told you in March that we would be low on PPE, would still lack testing supplies, and that it would take 10 days to get a test result, would you have wondered what we had done the last three months?

If I told you in March that we would still be spreading the virus when there are proven methods not to spread the virus — proven — would you have believed it?

If I told you in March that countries from Italy to China (to most of Europe and Asia) would have very low case counts and that the U.S. would be spreading out of control, would you have believed it?

I asked Larry Brilliant, MD, if he believed Covid-19 would be under control by now. Larry led the eradication or small pox and polio. He told me a story of a bug the USSR was building that combined the lethality of the most dangerous bug and the infectiousness of the most infectious. That bug was called Chimera. Larry was clear. As bad and as devious as Covid-19 is, Chimera would have been much more lethal and contagious. Chimera would have been a challenge but was expected by some to kill 500,000 by some estimates because of containment efforts.

With 140,000 deaths and no real plan in place to reduce the spread before vaccines are broadly available and effective (likely next year), Larry said in no uncertain terms when Covid came, he expected things to be much much better. He believes we should have solved this by now.

The simple reason is all the tools exist: diagnostic testing. contact tracing. Masks. Many of these tools have been available to us for centuries.

Without daily testing, but with masks, we would be able to carry on with 90% of our life. With daily testing and masks, that would be 98%. And after a short time, as the virus dies it could be 100%.

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Andy Slavitt
Medium Coronavirus Blog

Former Medicare, Medicaid & ACA head for Pres. Barack Obama. https://twitter.com/ASlavitt