While government officials should be focused only on containing the coronavirus outbreak, Americans fears unfortunately are being fueled by political posturing.
Key officials throughout the government have been working 24/7 for more than a month on virus containment and protection. Yet Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the administration’s response “too late” and “anemic.” And we already have a whistleblower complaint.
The threat the outbreak presents is real, and energies need to be focused on preparations. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, told Congress today the coronavirus is unlikely to disappear next year and that many more cases should be expected in the United States.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Washington this morning that the virus is likely to cause disruptions to everyday life in the U.S. “Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably. Maybe see impacts on public transportation? Sure, but we do this. We know how to handle this.”
The World Health Organization increased the risk assessment of the coronavirus to “very high” at a global level.
Vice President Pence, whom President Trump charged with leading the administration’s response efforts, is calling state governors in order to accelerate plans in coordinating federal/state responses.
I just ran into Dr. Michael Burgess, (R-TX) in the Longworth House Office Building and asked for his thoughts as a physician and member of Congress. “I think the administration made a good call in January when they suspended travel and announced an almost unprecedented quarantine for travelers coming in and out of China,” he said. “We’re all grateful for that containment which gave us several weeks where the number of cases here is low.”
Dr. Burgess had just returned from Dr. Fauci’s briefing and repeated the warning that there are going to be more cases in this country. He advises, “One immediate step is for the CDC to allow more on-site testing, not just in Atlanta, and to accelerate production of test kits. Continued strong efforts at containment are essential.”
The CDC—Centers for Disease Control—offers a clear description of the virus outbreak, its current risks, and federal government’s responses.
This Business Insider article provides the best overview of the global response and risks in the United States.
A key point it makes: “[D]rug companies are doing their best to come up with a solution, either testing existing drugs to see whether they would be effective or starting from scratch with the coronavirus’ genetic code. Moderna, a biotech drug company, has already provided US health officials with a possible vaccine for testing — hopefully by mid-April.”
The United States has the best capacity for pharmaceutical research and for medical care in the world, and private pharmaceutical researchers, much like government officials, are working around the clock to develop vaccines and treatments and making plans to expand manufacturing capacity.
In addition to applying their scientific expertise to find ways to diagnose, treat and prevent infections from the virus, biopharmaceutical companies are providing financial support and in-kind donations to organizations and collaborating with U.S., Chinese and global health authorities.
PhRMA companies have been donating investigational compounds that may have potential to treat coronavirus for emergency use and clinical trials, coordinating with government officials to tailor pandemic preparedness platforms to address the coronavirus emergency, and contributing millions of dollars of direct monetary and in-kind products and assistance. Here is just a partial list of some of the things private U.S. companies are doing.
This is an important time to remind ourselves that having robust pharmaceutical research and development capacity that can quickly respond could not be more critical and important than at times like this of a global pandemic threat.
And what can we do: The best thing we can do right now is to stay calm and not panic. The Washington Post repeats sound public health advice: wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and stay home if you’re feeling sick.
And we’d add, call your doctor or hospital before heading to an emergency room if you feel sick so you can be treated appropriately before spreading the virus.