No one? NIAID chief Dr. Anthony Fauci joined our colleague Hugh Hewitt this morning to discuss the parameters of social distancing and the development of the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a fascinating conversation, worth listening to in its entirety, but Fauci made two observations that will need careful consideration in the days and weeks ahead.
Let’s start with the more pessimistic news. Even if all this mitigation succeeds in tamping down COVID-19, it might not just disappear with the warm weather. And even if it does, there’s no guarantee that it will disappear as the related SARS virus did nearly twenty years ago:
HH: Now Dr. I want to close with you, and Senator Cotton’s coming up pretty quick. But the big unanswered question, because I don’t know that many members of the White House press corps have actually read The Great Influenza, is that between its appearance in Kansas in the spring of 1918 and its devastating second wave, it went through 12 iterations according to John Barry’s book. And the second and third and fourth, they got deadlier. The hardest question for me to answer is during the summer when the virus appears to disappear, will it be iterating into a more deadly virus? Is there any science to tell us if we’re like getting crowd immunity, or if it’s going to come back in a more virulent form?
AF: You know, we do not know. When we suppressed the SARS Coronavirus, it went away and never came back. We are hoping that if we can suppress this by mitigation and by containment over the next few months that when we get into the deep summer, that it will disappear. If it doesn’t and comes back, hopefully, that will give us more breathing room to develop therapies as well as a vaccine. But the direct answer to your question is we do not know if it will come back and how it will come back. It’s a possibility, but we just need to be prepared for it.
HH: I was cheered yesterday by the record-setting initiation of a trial on a vaccine. I am curious if there is other good news on interventions for those who are suffering from virus pneumonia and related, there’s some pretty awful related maladies. Are they any new interventions that have crossed your screen?
AF: Oh, there are several that are in clinical trial. They have not yet been proven to be effective, but there are a number of interventions, what we call therapies, direct antiviral therapies that are being tested in China, and some that are even being tested here in the United States.