U.S. Medical News: U.S. Health Experts Made A Blunder By Underestimating SARS-CoV-2, As A Result More Than 320,000 Americans Have Died!
U.S. Medical News:
As of today, more than 18 million Americans have contracted the COVID-19 disease, of which more than 85 per cent of them are going to have to endure some kind of long term health complication. More than 320,000 Americans have died from the disease, disrupting and causing grief to many families and loved ones.
When the COVID-19 crisis first started in China and during the early days when the crisis was escalating, many so called American health experts starting dishing out the wrong advice and misinformation, which indirectly help shaped many of the policies and strategies that American health and government authorities adopted. Now that it has been shown that the country was misled from day one by these so called medical or health experts, should not society make them pay?
Initially when Chinese officials revealed that their new pneumonia outbreak was caused by the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, Asian countries hit hard by SARS knew what they had to do. Taiwan and South Korea had already learned the importance of a rapid response that included widespread testing, contact tracing and isolating infected people.
America by contrast, learned all the wrong lessons. The country's 20-year run of good luck with emerging pathogens including not just SARS, but also the relatively mild H1N1 pandemic, Middle East respiratory syndrome, Ebola, Zika virus, and two strains of bird flu gave them a "false sense of security.
In-depth examination of the year-long pandemic shows that many leading infectious disease specialists underestimated the fast-moving outbreak in its first weeks and months, assuming that the United States would again emerge largely unscathed. American hubris prevented the country from reacting as quickly and effectively as Asian nations.
“In the last two decades there were a lot of fire alarms with no fire, so people tended to ignore this one." said Dr Lawrence Gostin, director of Georgetown's O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, who acknowledges he underestimated the virus in its first few weeks.
In an article on the 24th of January 2020, Dr William Schaffner told Kaiser Health News that the real danger to Americans was the common flu, which can kill up to 61,000 Americans a year. https://khn.org/news/flu-far-deadlier-than-wuhan-virus/
Dr Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, "Coronavirus will be a blip on the horizon in comparison. The risk is trivial."
The Washington Post
on the same day published a column by Dr Howard Markel, who questioned China's lockdown of millions of people
. "It's possible that this coronavirus may not be highly contagious, and it may not be all that deadly," wrote Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.
On the 27th
of January, a similar article apperared in the New York Times also by Dr Markel.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/27/opinion/china-wuhan-virus-quarantine.html
The Journal Of The American Medical Association or JAMA, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, published a podcast Feb. 18
titled, "The 2020 Influenza Epidemic
— More Serious Than Coronavirus in the US." A week later, JAMA
published a large infographic
illustrating the dangers of flu and minimizing the risks from the novel virus. https://edhub.ama-assn.org/jn-learning/audio-player/18234512
Dr Paul Offit, who led development of a rotavirus
vaccine, predicted that the coronavirus, like most respiratory bugs, would fade in the summer.
Dr Offit told Christiane Amanpour in a March 2 appearance on PBS
"I can't imagine, frankly, that it would cause even one-tenth of the damage that influenza
causes every year in the United States."
Former US President Donald Trump picked up on many of these remarks, predicting that the coronavirus would disappear by April and that it was no worse than the flu. Trump later said the country was "rounding the turn" on the pandemic, even as the number of deaths exploded to record levels.
An epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr Caitlin Rivers
— and tweeted — about the novel coronavirus from the beginning. But she said public health officials try to balance those fears with the reality that most small outbreaks in other countries typically don't become global threats.
Epidemiologist Dr Mark Wilson, an emeritus professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health said, "If you cry wolf too often, people will never pay attention."
Medical experts were hesitant to predict the novel coronavirus was the big pandemic they had long anticipated
"for fear of seeming alarmist," said Dr Céline Gounder, an infectious disease specialist advising President-elect Joe Biden. https://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates_the_next_outbreak_we_re_not_ready?language=en
Numerous experts fell victim to wishful thinking or denial, said Dr Nicole Lurie, who served as assistant secretary for preparedness and response during the Obama administration. https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/20/the-months-of-magical-thinking-as-the-coronavirus-swept-over-china-some-experts-were-in-denial-about-what-was-to-come/
Dr Lurie said added, "It's hard to think about the unthinkable. For people whose focus and fear was bioterrorism, they had a world view that Mother Nature could never be such a bad actor. If it wasn't bioterrorism, then it couldn't be so bad."
If only more real experts realized what was coming, the nation could have been far better prepared. The US could have gotten a head start on manufacturing personal protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies, said Dr Nicholas Christakis, author of "Apollo's Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live."
Dr Christakis asked, "Why did we waste two months that the Chinese essentially bought for us? We could have gotten billions of dollars into testing. We could have had better public messaging that we were about to be invaded.... But we were not prepared."
Some scientists largely have been willing to admit their errors and update their assessments when new data becomes available.
Dr Offit joked about his PBS interview. "If you're going to be wrong, be wrong in front of millions of people. Make a complete ass of yourself."
Experts say their response to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus would have been more aggressive if people had realized how easily it spreads, even before infected people develop symptoms and that many people remain asymptomatic.
Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said, "For a virus to have pandemic potential that is one of the greatest assets it can have."
Though COVID-19 has a lower death rate than SARS and MERS, its ability to spread silently throughout a community makes it more dangerous, said Dr Kathleen Neuzil, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Individuals infected with SARS and MERS are contagious only after they begin coughing and experiencing other symptoms; patients without symptoms don't spread either disease.
In the case of SARS and MERS, "when people got sick, they got sick pretty badly and went right to the hospital and weren't walking around transmitting it," Dr Christakis said.
As it's possible to quarantine people with SARS and MERS before they begin spreading the virus, "it was easier to put a moat around them," said Dr Offit.
Doctors believed they could contain the novel coronavirus by telling sick people to stay home
based on their knowledge of SARS and MERS, In the first few months of the pandemic, there appeared to be no need for healthy people to wear masks. That led health officials, including US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, to admonish Americans not to buy up limited supplies of face masks, which were desperately needed by hospitals. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6905e1.htm
Dr Markel said. "We are always fighting the last epidemic. Our experiences with coronaviruses was that they kind of burn themselves out in warm weather and they didn't have the capacity to spread as viciously as this one has."
Numerous scientists were skeptical of early anecdotes of pre-symptomatic spread.
Dr Wilson said, "It takes a lot to overturn established dogma. Jumping on an initial finding, without corroborating it, can be just as bad as missing a new finding."
However as evidence of pre-symptomatic spread accumulated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April changed its advice and urged Americans to mask up in public. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6914e1.htm
Dr Adalja notes that the CDC's earlier advice against wearing masks was based on research that found them to be ineffective against spreading influenza. New research, however, has shown masks reduce the transmission of the novel coronavirus, which spreads mainly through respiratory droplets but can travel in the air as tiny particles. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article
Dr Adalja said the US should have learned from its early stumbles. Yet in spite of abundant evidence, many communities still resist mandating masks or physical distancing.
He said, "I continue to be baffled that we keep making the same mistakes," Dr Adalja said. "It's almost like we're doomed to repeat this cycle endlessly."
Though the CDC set the wheels of its response in motion early, establishing an incident management structure
on January 7, the agency's early missteps with testing are well known
. The outbreak escalated rapidly
, leading the World Health Organization to declare a health emergency
on January 30 and the US to announce a public health emergency
the next day. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/health/cdc-coronavirus-lab-contamination-testing.html
Dr Adalja and other experts dismissed some of the Trump administration's early responses, such as quarantines and a travel ban on China, as "window dressing" that "squandered resources" and did little to contain the virus. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6905e1.htm
Dr Adalja added,"There was political inertia about the public health actions that could have avoided lockdowns. We let this spill into hospitals ..and if you give a virus a three-month head start, what do you expect?"
Interestingly in a January 7 post on a website of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Dr Daniel Lucey labeled the pneumonia "Disease X," using the WHO's term for an emerging pathogen capable of causing a devastating epidemic, for which there are no tests, treatments or vaccines. https://sciencespeaksblog.org/2020/01/07/an-id-physician-addresses-frequently-asked-questions-on-pneumonia-of-unknown-cause-in-wuhan-city-china/
Dr Lucey, adjunct professor of infectious diseases at Georgetown University Medical Center, notes that the international response was hampered by misinformation from Chinese officials. "The Chinese government said there was no person-to-person spread," said Dr Lucey, who traveled to China hoping to visit Wuhan. "That was a lie."
However when China revealed on January 20 that 14 health workers had been infected,
Lucey knew the virus would spread much farther. "To me, that was like Pandora's box," Lucey said. "I knew there would be more."
When the number of infected health workers grew to 1716 on February 14, Lucey said, "I almost threw up." https://sciencespeaksblog.org/2020/02/14/china-discloses-1716-healthcare-workers-with-covid-19-feb-14-2020/
Despite the fact that his blog is read by thousands of infectious disease specialists, Dr Lucey emailed a special warning to journalists and a dozen doctors and public health officials, hoping to alert influential leaders.
Dr Lucey said."I put this heartfelt commentary in my email and just got silence,"
Now health experts hope the US will learn from its mistakes and be better prepared for the next threat.
Considering how many novel viruses have emerged in the past two decades, it's likely that "pandemics are going to become more frequent," Dr Gounder said, making it critical to be ready for the next one.
Dr Tom Frieden, who directed the CDC during the Obama administration said,
“Of all the lessons learned during the pandemic, the most important is that we can't be this unprepared again."
Frieden said, "To me, this should be the most teachable moment of our lifetime, in terms of the need to strengthen public health in the United States and globally."
However Dr Gounder notes that US public health funding tends to follow a cycle of crisis and neglect. The US increased spending on public health and emergency preparedness after the 9/11 and anthrax attacks in 2001, but that funding has declined sharply over the years.
Dr Gounder said. "We tend to invest a lot in that moment of crisis," "When the crisis fades, we cut the budget. That leads us to be really vulnerable."
Currently while the epidemic still going on, we still have certain so called ‘experts’ denying that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is mutating or are underestimating how fast the SARS-CoV-02 virus can evolve and become prevalent fast. We have some experts who are denying that ADE or antibody-dependent enhancement could ever occur etc.
Sometimes it is best that when so called ‘experts’ are not sure, they should simply shut up!
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