One million COVID-19 cases confirmed in the US, what lessons should we learn? Hear from Columbia Professor Wafaa El-Sadr

May 01, 2020

As the US hit the grim milestone of 1,000,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, many wondered how the country went from only a dozen cases in early February to today’s dire situation. What did the government fail to do in the fight against the deadly disease? And why did it happen?

In response to these questions, Wafaa El-Sadr, University Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine and Director of ICAP at Columbia University, talked in an interview presented by Columbia Global Centers | Beijing with China’s Jiemian News about the significance of the public health system and the lessons people should learn from the pandemic. Main points of the interview are as follows.

  • All institutions, governmental and non-governmental, need to heed the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. This means making sure that there is solid public health infrastructure, there are early warning systems, there are stockpiles of supplies and trained health workforce.
  • The US have been challenged by COVID-19. This is due to various reasons, including limited investment in public health systems that are critical to early control of epidemics. These are the systems that ensure that there is early detection of cases and containment of transmission from them to others.
  • There is no arbitrary date to pick for reopening the US economy. There is the need to examine carefully the data on the epidemic and monitor carefully the number of new cases and deaths every day until a sustained decrease is noted. There is also the need to make sure that there are sufficient resources for testing and also for identification and tracking of all contacts.
  • It is too early to know exactly what proportion of people who have had COVID-19 will develop antibodies and for how long these antibodies will last. We also still don’t know whether these antibodies will be protective.

Read the full story (in Chinese) here.