Have We Gathered Enough Information About COVID-19?

Image credit: The Wall Street Journal

The Covid-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented worldwide experience for all human beings. As the virus continues to spread, the same tensions arise – do we understand the virus yet? The answer is unsurprisingly, complicated. Our efforts to contain and prevent the virus outbreak have revealed certain truths about the virus and our understanding of it. Inevitably, politics has taken center stage in the battle against Covid, making it harder to respond with the outcomes that can effectively curb the spread.

A primary difference between the Covid-19 virus and the flu is in the number of infections. In its first year, the virus infected around 100 million Americans compared to the average flu season which results in 20 million infections annually. Despite the countermeasures aimed to slow the spread, Covid seemed to have done little to contain the disaster. Surprisingly, the flu season was worse as the number of cases halved after the pandemic had struck. By December 2021, around half of Americans claimed to have had the virus.

The CDC reported minimal influenza activity throughout the 2020-21 season due to the social-distancing measures that had been adopted to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Though we’ve had widespread vaccination since then, the number of deaths due to Covid remains as high as in the first year of the pandemic. It is also hard to accurately estimate the exact number of infections in year two, as one third of the cases were asymptomatic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the companies responsible for reporting on the spread, control, and growth of the Covid-19 virus. Founded in 1946, the CDC is a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for providing leadership and resources to public health programs to protect people from health threats across the country.

Deborah Birx, M.D., an American immunologist, diplomat, and government official, serves as the Global Ambassador in the fight against HIV/AIDS as a White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. Dr. Birx is an expert in clinical infectious diseases and has worked to address the coronavirus pandemic since February 2020. She has assisted emergency response teams across the United States, improved the federal response and delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline healthcare workers, and supported efforts to expand testing programs.

The understanding of Covid-19 is far from complete and accurate, and it is hard to determine the effectiveness of our global efforts. As the complexity of this virus presents itself in new ways, it is essential to maintain our patience and global focus in order to reduce the spread of this virus. It will take continual learning, global collaboration, and access to public health data to achieve success and protect public health.