Donald McNeil is the New York Times science and health reporter focusing on plagues. He has “become a household name for many over the past several months” due to his early and consistent reporting on the coronavirus pandemic. His article this week in the Times, titled “A Dose of Optimism, as the Pandemic Rages On,” has therefore drawn significant attention.
McNeil reports that “non-pharmaceutical interventions” such as mask-wearing and social distancing have “made a huge difference in lives saved.” Now he focuses on pharmaceutical interventions such as vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. On this front, he has become “cautiously optimistic,” citing experts who “are saying, with genuine confidence, that the pandemic in the United States will be over far sooner than they expected, possibly by the middle of next year.”
We have already fared far better than we did during the Spanish influenza, the pandemic to which this one is often compared. It cost 675,000 lives in a country of 103 million, a toll equivalent to two million dead today.
In addition, the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere was almost nonexistent this year because of social distancing and mask-wearing. As a result, if Americans get their flu shots, we can hope to avoid a “twindemic” of coronavirus and influenza. Monoclonal antibodies such as the regimen given to President Trump are making progress, and the FDA is likely to begin approval of vaccines sometime in the next three months.
Such progress is expected to catalyze markets and jumpstart the global economy.
The first person in the US to contract coronavirus twice
This is very good news, coming at a time when we need such pandemic-related hope.
A twenty-five-year-old man in Nevada with no history of significant underlying conditions has become the first confirmed US patient to become reinfected with COVID-19. He has now recovered, though his second case was more severe, requiring hospitalization. In related news, an eighty-nine-year-old Dutch woman is the first confirmed case of a person dying from a COVID-19 reinfection.