As the U.S. coronavirus death toll shot up this week, White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that this initial wave will probably not be the last the U.S. sees of the virus.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 1,000 by Thursday — and just two days later, the toll had doubled. Of the 2,010 deaths recorded as of Saturday, over 500 were in New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.
Fauci: Be prepared for second round
Dr. Fauci noted that cases in the southern hemisphere are increasing as that part of the world enters the fall and winter season, suggesting that a cyclical pattern may be at play, the Washington Examiner reported.
“If, in fact, they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we’ll get a cycle around the second time,” Fauci said Wednesday. “I know we’ll be successful in putting this down now. But we really need to be prepared for another cycle. And what we’re doing, I believe, will prepare us well,” Fauci said.
Vaccine won’t be ready by fall
Fauci said earlier in March that a U.S.-produced vaccine would not be ready for at least a year to 18 months. Human clinical trials started in mid-March for a vaccine, but need time to see the levels of effectiveness, side effects, and other safety considerations.
That timeline would not help a seasonal cycle that could start up again in September or October when the weather cools down.
China has said that it could have a vaccine available for emergency situations in April, but what would an emergency situation be and how could a vaccine help at that point?
Furthermore, my unofficial Facebook poll indicated that none of my friends who responded would be willing to consider taking a vaccine from China at this point. Granted, this is purely anecdotal, but it indicates that a portion of the American public might be hesitant about taking a rushed Chinese vaccine.
Testing, testing, testing
Although the U.S. is now testing around 65,000 people a day for the coronavirus, testing is still limited to those with symptoms consistent with the virus, while 15 to 20% of those who have it may be asymptomatic.
Asymptomatic people can still spread the virus, so until we have much more widespread testing, including antibody testing, we will not really know how many people have had the virus and how damaging a second wave might be.
There is much that we can do before a second wave comes, if indeed Fauci is right. Trump just announced that Ford and GE will be making as many as 100,000 ventilators, and plans are also in the works to produce massive amounts of PPE gear and even for building temporary hospitals.
There is no reason our country can’t be prepared for a second wave of coronavirus this fall to be able to avoid the kinds of shutdowns we are now experiencing.