The Daily Dose: COVID-19 testing can only go so far as a solution; Coronavirus news out of Asia

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, testing and subsequent contact tracing has been promoted as necessary steps in combating and eventually stifling the global outbreak. There’s no arguing against that. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t inherent risks that come with the strategy’s implementation. A commentary in Nature points out that social-economic inequalities present a very real danger when it comes to testing. “Broader testing proffers a seductively straightforward technological remedy. But these solutions can fail when they run into messy, complex and unequal social realities… Disparities, distrust in health systems and other complexities must be explicitly factored into solutions.” The author discusses the “complexities” taking examples from the United States and Singapore.

The resurgent SARS-COV-2 outbreak shows no sign of abating in South Korea. According to the Korea Herald, “South Korea is facing a scarcity of medical professionals to treat COVID-19 patients in severe condition due to ongoing walkout of trainee doctors, according to a health authority on Tuesday. The number of patients in critical or serious condition has been growing at a fast clip over the past two weeks, from nine people on Aug. 18 to 104 people as of midnight Monday, in the wake of the second wave of infections that has hit the country’s capital and surrounding area.” Hospital beds dedicated to severe cases are filling up quickly. Worrisome.

The COVAX Facility is designed channel funds provided by middle- to high-income countries involved in the program toward a number of pharmaceutical companies that are working to develop vaccines, which will also be provided to low-income nations. One of the world’s financial powerhouse countries has just committed to the program. According to the Japan Times, “Japan will join an international framework that aims to guarantee equitable global access to potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus, the health minister said Tuesday… It hopes to supply 2 billion doses of a vaccine across the world by the end of 2021, covering at least 20 percent of the population of each participating country, according to the plan co-led by the World Health Organization.” The world is interconnected now. A global response to the pandemic is the only viable, long-term solution.

One of the primary ways countries are trying to keep the coronavirus at bay is by monitoring or forbidding entry to travelers from countries that have not gotten the outbreak under control. According to Xinhua, “China will further enforce strict control over international passenger flights that possess a high risk of imported COVID-19 cases, the country’s civil aviation regulator said Tuesday. The passenger load factor of inbound flights that are of relatively high risks should not exceed 75 percent, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a statement, citing the grim pandemic-control situation overseas.” Sound strategy.

It’s a dark time for the American Centers for Disease Control. An op-ed in the New York Times argues that the time has come to simply ignore the organization’s advice due to the political nature of its decision making process. “These changes by the C.D.C. will undermine efforts to end the pandemic, slow the return to normal economic, educational and social activities, and increase the loss of lives… The C.D.C., the federal agency that should be crushing the pandemic, is promoting policies that prolong it. That means that local, state and organizational leaders will have to do what the federal government won’t.” Once the most respected public health voice in the world, it is barely a shadow of itself. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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