Coronavirus in the USA: we see only the tip of the iceberg

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — At first, the coronavirus seemed to the Americans some mysterious affliction, affecting people in distant lands. But in 14 weeks in the United States, one million cases were confirmed. Another six weeks passed, and America overcame the gloomy milestone of two million positive covid-19 test results, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Lost lives, a seriously damaged economy and heartbreaking political turmoil – all this negatively affects tired American society. However, pandemic experts warn that the main thing is yet to come, that there will be much more pain, although the authorities open stores and offices, and the loud political rhetoric of the American president about the epoch-making crisis is narrowed to almost complete silence.

“We only see the first 100 meters of the marathon,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Infectious Diseases Research Center.

According to him, society usually becomes resistant to the virus when at least 60% of the population is infected naturally or through a vaccine and antibodies appear. The United States is still very far from this indicator, and not a single firm gives firm guarantees that it will develop an effective vaccine.

“We have a maximum of five percent of those infected,” Osterholm continued. “And if five percent brought us such pain, suffering and economic loss, then what will happen at sixty percent?” This is a sobering thought. All suffering and death is only the beginning. But people have not yet realized this fact.”

The real number of coronavirus infected in the United States is probably several times greater than the confirmed two million, said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. But it is unknown due to lack of tests.

Problems with the design and production of effective tests prevented the United States from acting effectively at the beginning of the pandemic, and although testing is now much more frequent, it covers only about six percent of the population.

People with covid-19 often have no noticeable symptoms, or only mild symptoms such as dry cough and low fever. “We only see the tip of the notorious iceberg,” said Redliner. “We are being hampered by a lack of tests, and especially now that companies have resumed their work in all 50 states.”

Inadequate stocks of test systems, swabs for taking smears, mechanical ventilation devices and personal protective equipment for medical workers became the first characteristic feature of a pandemic in the United States. The personification of confused and sometimes shocking actions in response to a pandemic was Donald Trump. He predicted that the virus would disappear in April from sunlight, then began to quarrel with the governors, and after that he talked about the virtues of bleaching powder as an injection and the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which has not proved to be effective in combating covid-19.

“From the very beginning, the White House gave false information and was engaged in fabrications,” Redliner said. – If there is a situation directly opposite to the concept “the task is completed”, then here it is. In essence, this is an American fiasco.”

But although the number of deaths from coronavirus in the United States crossed a hundred thousandth line, making up a quarter of the global figure, this crisis quietly disappeared from the political agenda.

Trump is very busy sending military personnel to suppress anti-racist protests that began after the death of George Floyd, and he stopped his daily pandemic press conferences. He gave the states the opportunity to open companies and enterprises, and this process is somewhat unsystematic, because in at least 12 states the number of infected people continues to increase.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief expert on infectious diseases in the administration, admitted that he has not seen the president for several weeks, although the health crisis continues. “How will it end? So far we are only at the beginning of the way, ”he said this week.

Epidemiologists during the crisis are very concerned about the fact that much about covid-19 is still unknown. The World Health Organization was forced to clarify that it is still unclear to people how the virus is transmitted by people who do not have symptoms, although she used to say that such cases are very rare.

It is also unknown why some groups of people working together, say meat packers, are infected more often than others, and there are fewer cases of infected prisoners living in crowded areas. There is no clarity on how the virus will respond to the summer heat, and how serious the second and third waves of infection will be. Not everything is clear even with the symptoms of the virus, which previously consistently attributed cough and fever. It turned out to be not so.

“We just don’t know much, and we need to show more modesty and self-criticism. We do not control the process, we simply swim according to the will of the waves,” said Osterholm.

Those decisions that are made in an ongoing pandemic inevitably acquire a political and moral character, and not just a scientific one.

Due to the economic downturn, which in its scope can compete with any crises of the last century, over 40 million people have already been left without work. In such circumstances, any tightening of the isolation regime to prevent the spread of the virus is fraught with unbearable mental and financial pain. On the other hand, attempts to return to previous life standards and habits without a vaccine are likely to lead to overflowing of clinics with patients and dying.

“We need to complete a difficult task, not allowing either one or the other extreme,” said Osterholm. – And we already decided that it was all over. But this is not so.”


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