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Top officials at the World Health Organization on Monday appeared at times exasperated, flabbergasted, and wearied as they confronted comments by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows suggesting that the United States has given up trying to control the spread of the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said in a CNN interview Sunday. Instead we will focus on “vaccines, therapeutics, and other mitigation areas,” he said. The comments spurred widespread uproar, which Meadows tried to quell Monday. But his clarification only reinforced his earlier comments.
“I mean, when we look at this, we’re going to defeat the virus. We’re not going to control it. We will try to contain it as best we can,” he told reporters outside the White House yesterday. He again emphasized the need for therapeutics and vaccines.
In a WHO press briefing Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke bluntly: “Giving up on control is dangerous.”
While Tedros agreed on the importance of therapeutics and a vaccine, he noted that so far, they are not yet available. As such, “control should also be part of the strategy,” he said. “The government should do its share and the citizens also should do their share. Otherwise, this virus is dangerous. If it’s let go freely, it can create havoc.”
WHO officials made the point repeatedly during the press conference Monday, at times in impassioned and strained pleas given the current state of the pandemic. Last week, the WHO recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the pandemic so far. The world is approaching 44 million cases and has recorded over 1.16 million deaths. Though many countries in the world are currently struggling with surges of new cases, the US stands out as one of the most ravaged, with 8.7 million cases and nearly 226,000 deaths.
The US is currently climbing to its third and highest peak in new cases yet. On Friday, the country logged its highest daily number of new cases in the pandemic, with 83,010, according to The COVID Tracking Project. The current seven-day rolling average is at nearly 70,000. As of Monday, nearly 43,000 people in the country were hospitalized with COVID-19, and the seven-day rolling average of daily deaths was nearly 800.
WHO officials have acknowledged many times that people generally are tired of efforts to try to control the virus—physical distancing, not visiting family, cancelling events. But, to put it frankly, the virus does not care, and ditching control efforts is a recipe for disaster.
What Meadows was basically suggesting—to not control, but to lessen the impacts of the virus—is to essentially allow the virus to spread among the healthy while trying to shield the most vulnerable. Protecting the most vulnerable is an “honorable objective,” WHO Executive Director Michael Ryan noted. But, “the difficulty arises in trying to actually achieve that goal.” This might work if, for instance, you can identify the most vulnerable people and they’re mostly in nursing homes. You might be able to shield them in that hypothetical situation, he says. But that’s not the reality:
The vast majority of vulnerable people live amongst us in multigenerational households—the old, the young, the vulnerable people on chemotherapy, people with underlying conditions, people with diabetes and hypertension. They’re mums, they’re dads, they’re brothers, they’re sisters, they’re sons, they’re daughters. So, the best way to protect those individuals is to do as much as possible to reduce the transmission of this disease at community level.
In other words, the best way to protect the most vulnerable is to protect everyone—and control the virus. “We should not give up on trying to suppress transmission and control transmission,” Ryan added.
Tsunami of cases
He also offered a grim caution of what can happen when countries and governments do not try to control the virus. He noted that in April and March many places in the world, including some in the US, used “mitigation”—he used air quotes for this word—as their strategy and “emergency rooms were overwhelmed and we were rolling freezer trucks up to the back of hospitals,” he said. “That’s the reality of mitigating a disease in the face of a tsunami of cases. You run out of capacity to cope and that is the fear right now.”
Ryan’s sweeping response to Meadow’s comments was unusually impassioned for the typically steady WHO press conferences. At times, he was clearly frustrated; at times he was energized. At other points, Ryan seemed stunned and tired, letting out defeated sighs. Perhaps the lowest point in his response came when he acknowledged that convincing some people to follow control efforts appeared hopeless.
Not everyone accepts what we need to do to save lives and stop the pandemic, he acknowledged. “They don’t believe in this disease,” Ryan said. “They don’t believe that we have a pandemic on our hands. How can you convince someone to do something if they don’t actually believe that there’s a problem. It’s truly impossible to think about this.”
Original Source From : https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/10/trump-admins-pandemic-surrender-draws-impassioned-response-from-who/ , Edited By coronaupdatestoday.com