It won’t mean shutting down public squares for two years, and it won’t be a constant war. However, Dr. Robert Redfield tells NPR, it will take a series of battles to put an end to the danger from the coronavirus pandemic, battles that could stretch out for two years. In order to win, Redfield says, we have to start building a health-care infrastructure that can respond to pandemics with more alacrity:
This virus is going to be with us. I’m hopeful that we’ll get through this first wave and, and have some time to prepare for the second wave. I’m hopeful that the private sector in its ingenuity and working with the government, NIH, will develop a vaccine that ultimately will change the impact of this virus.
But for the next 24 months, you know, we’re all in this together, and the most important thing that we can do is twofold: the American public fully embracing the social distancing that we requested to protect the vulnerable; and secondly, to operationalize the bread and butter of public health — you know, early case identification, isolation, contact tracing — so that this outbreak does not get the upper hand, as it has, unfortunately, in New York City, in northern New Jersey, and now New Orleans.
Redfield also warns that this is much worse for public health than influenza, which is itself fatal for tens of thousands each year. It’s more infectious, for one thing, and “viral shedding” starts earlier in the cycle. It’s a pandemic waiting to happen, in other words: