5 Greatest Covid-19 Errors to Keep away from as We Attempt to Flatten the Curve | Trigger + Management | WIRED

published on July 3, 2020

– As we look forward out
of the COVID-19 pandemic,

governors in some states
are already talking

about reopening some
businesses, and a few states

have already started reopening

[tense music]

[electric razor buzzing]

– Social distancing must continue,

but our economic shutdown cannot

– South Carolina's business is business

People wanna work, they need to work

– We will allow gyms, fitness
centers, bowling alleys

to reopen their doors

– But rushing to reopen too early

could lead to a deadlier second wave

[tense music]

The first and the biggest
mistake we can make

is ending physical distancing too early

[tense music]

If we rush to reopen, it could lead

to the uncontrolled spread
of the virus all over again

It won't be safe to reopen
until we see a dramatic decline

in the number of cases

There isn't a magic
number in terms of how big

that decline in cases needs to be,

and different countries are
handling that differently

The White House is saying
that states should be looking

for a decline in cases
for 14 straight days,

because that's the
virus' incubation period

But China didn't allow
cities like Wuhan and Nanjing

and others to reopen
until intense surveillance

detected zero new cases for 14 days

Overall, a second wave in China seems

to be pretty minimal at the moment

Here in the states and in
some countries in Europe,

the virus is still reaching its peak

We're still waiting to see
an overall decline in cases

in the states, signaling
that the virus spread

is slowing, and that the potential

for future outbreaks
won't overwhelm hospitals

It will take several more stages

until we return to some kind of normal

Some experts predict that
we could see some level

of physical distancing continue for years

[tense music]

The next big mistake would
be not preparing hospitals

for another surge

We've seen this happen in the past

Take the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic

that killed an estimated
50 million people, and many

of those didn't die in the
first wave of the pandemic

They were killed in the
second and third waves

Given that another surge
of COVID-19 is likely,

we need to make sure that
hospitals have three things

The first is medicines that
are proven to treat this virus

Right now, in some cases, doctors

are using experimental
treatments, but we need antivirals

that specifically target
this new coronavirus

Second, we need the right amounts

of personal protective equipment, or PPE,

for first responders and
our healthcare workers

so that we're not seeing a
situation like we are now

in this first wave,
where people are having

to reuse PPE, or having
to use expired masks

It's so important that our
front line healthcare workers

have that protective equipment
to make sure they're safe

while caring for others
and to limit the spread

of the virus through
healthcare facilities

And third, we need to
make sure that hospitals

have sufficient resources and equipment

That means everything from
enough beds, enough staff,

and ventilators to treat
the sickest patients

[tense music]

The third critical mistake would be

to reopen without ramping
up testing dramatically

The need for accurate, widely available,

and quick turnaround testing could

be the most important factor
in reopening the country

Without accurate testing,
we just have no idea

of how far and wide this virus has spread,

and also it means we can't
diagnose people quickly

and treat them appropriately

This is especially
important, given as many

as one in four people who has the disease

doesn't show any symptoms,
and in that context

of asymptomatic spread, it means we need

to continue testing, even as
the number of cases declines

And we may need to test
people multiple times

One of the challenges of this new virus

is we don't know how
long immunity lasts for,

or what the likelihood
of reinfection might be

So far we've tested
four million americans,

and are running between
130,000 to 160,000 tests a day,

but we should be running
500,000 to 700,000 tests a day

But ramping up testing to this extent

could cost billions of dollars

Add to that the challenge that
you're asking lab technicians

to suddenly do many,
many more tests on top

of their existing work, so
you're taking away resources

from other areas in the healthcare field

And at the exact same
time, the entire world

is also demanding access
to these resources

[tense music]

The next big mistake we could make

is letting the virus
spread without tracking it,

so basically not doing contact tracing

Contact tracing is where
we find each person

who has the disease, find out
when they were contagious,

and then trace their steps
to find out where they went

and who they had contact with
while they were infectious,

and then you have to follow
up with each and every one

of those contacts to make sure

they're quarantined or
isolated as necessary

It's an old school
public health technique,

but let me tell you, contact tracing

has been the cornerstone

of every major infectious
disease epidemic investigation

A lot of contact tracing is leg work

You're following up with people,
finding out where they went

and who they may have exposed,

but there are new tools that can help

Apple and Google are working
on contact tracing technology

for smartphone, but keep in mind,

as important as contact tracing is,

it really has to work hand-in-hand
with widespread testing

Without knowing who's been infected,

we can't monitor the spread

[tense music]

And finally, we need to stop

repeating the panic-neglect cycle

The panic-neglect cycle
is what we so often see

in public health where we all freak out

during the crisis, and then soon after,

we forget about it and act
like nothing bad happened

The aftermath of the
2002/2003 SARS pandemic

is a perfect example of
this panic-neglect cycle

A possible vaccine for
SARS was being developed,

but then it was abandoned by funders

as the disease tapered
off, so then we ended up

with a half-developed SARS vaccine

that was forgotten about
in laboratory freezers

The panic-neglect cycle,
especially that panic part of it,

also leads to what we call exceptionalism,

where we target much of
our funding and energy

on one disease, but at the cost
of other pressing diseases

I'm hearing of some people losing jobs

at other medical
organizations, for example,

those working on dementia, because they're

losing funding during this pandemic

But dementia's not going
anywhere, and so we need

to make sure that we don't lose focus

of all those other diseases
that cause so many problems

Also, ebola is not still
fully under control,

and so even though it's not
making headlines right now,

we can't take our eye off the ball

And I really hate that
after all the panicking,

we fall into this neglect mode,

because it's really not a matter

of if we'll go through this again,

it's a matter of when will
we go through this again,

and we need to be prepared for it,

and we need to learn from this

so that we don't keep
repeating our mistakes

Thank you so much for watching

Keep dropping your comments here

and contacting me on social media

Stay home and stay safe, everyone

[tense music]

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