July 5th, 2020. The spread of the Corona virus in the U.S. is reaching a level so high that the chances of beating the pandemic are becoming slimmer by the day. What do I mean by that? When the spread of the disease is in the 2-5% , it is possible to contain the spread by convincing people to avoid contacts with others. Basically, chances of contracting the disease (We still know little about how it spreads) are one in 50 to 20, meaning that one in 20 or 50 random people you meet are infected.
If one in 4 Covid tests are positive, like in Arizona currently, the chances of being in the presence of someone infected increase dramatically, meaning that one in four people you randomly meet are infected. Not good!
I am now convinced that my chances of getting infected over time are 100%, even if I stay put at home and only go out to get food. What about the cleaning lady who comes every other week? Or the folks dropping a package at my house? Their chances of getting infected are increasing by the day too. Lethality is dropping somewhat and doctors are finding better ways to mitigate the impacts of the disease in those infected but this is of little comfort for millions of Americans who may be in a high risk category (I just turned 65…)
As of today (Juy 5th,) there are about 3,000,000 confirmed Covid cases in the U.S, with 132,000 attributed deaths. If everyone in the population gets infected, this would mean nearly 15 million Covid-related deaths. Significant! As a benchmark, 600,000 die of cancer and 38,000 die in traffic accidents in the U.S. every year.
Bottom line: It may be too late to reverse the course of this disease even if a vaccine is found and tested soon. Too many are already infected as the progression of the disease shows. Moreover, we don’t know how long the immunity of a vaccine or the so-caled “herd immunity” would last. So, what is the best public health strategy if it becomes increasingly likely that everyone in the U.S. will get it?