Test, Trace, and Quarantine to Combat Covid-19

Our Covid-19 response is, unfortunately, off to the worst start in the world. We were unprepared. Testing per capita here lags behind all other developed nations. Even as our testing capacity comes up to speed, it’s important to remember that testing alone is not enough. The key to stopping the spread of this disease is to focus on contact tracing and mandatory isolation, regardless of test results.
One need look no further than this interview I did with an American quarantined in Shanghai to see what the U.S. is doing wrong. In China, no one waits until someone tests positive to go into isolation. Any person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive is required to move to a controlled quarantine facility for fourteen days, separate from all others they could potentially infect. I wrote about the importance of quarantine at Psychology Today and spoke about it on MSNBC’s Morning Joe as well.
This past week also brought mixed news around a medical solution to Covid-19. Results from a controlled clinical trial in Shanghai showed that hydroxy chloroquine, on its own, was ineffective in its treatment of patients hospitalized with Covid-19. There is still hope though for different antiviral drug combinations, as I wrote about in Forbes, and for some vaccines, though their development will take much longer.
There will be an end to this pandemic. When it comes, let us not forget the lessons we are learning today. There will be another lethal coronavirus epidemic. There will also be other lethal killers that will come our way – a new highly lethal strain of influenza, a global spread of antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The biological threats we face are not unknown. When this epidemic is over, let us make sure we are prepared for tomorrow in a way that we were not today.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.