COVID-19 isn't the first pandemic in the history of the world, and it certainly won't be the last. In preparation for the next public health crisis, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests we can use takeaways from the current coronavirus pandemic—what we have done right as well as wrong—to better arm us with the tools to combat those in the future. Here are crucial lessons of the coronavirus pandemic, permeated by humility, that Dr. Fauci revealed during a Harvard Medical School Grand Rounds session on Thursday. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Don't Underestimate the Potential of a Pandemic
"When you're experiencing an outbreak, don't ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. We've been through this before. Remember HIV. Five gay men, then 26 gay men, and then it's only a gay man's disease and then it's this and then it's that. And then fast-forward a few decades. You have 78 million people who have been infected, and 28, 30, 30-plus million have died. Don't ever estimate [an outbreak] as it evolves and don't try to look at the rosy side of things."
Don't Administer Treatment Until It Is Proven Safe and Effective
"Number two, we can do and should always do good, ethically sound, scientifically sound research during the outbreak. This idea of throwing everything to somebody because it's desperate doesn't work. It's gotten us into trouble with other diseases. So let's not forget the fact that although you want to get the best intervention to someone as quickly as possible, that there is a major role for ethically sound, controlled clinical trials. We have to do that."
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Adapt and Evolve When New Information Becomes Available
"The other one is, getting back to the issue of humility …. We've really got to realize that, from day one, you don't know it all. And you've got to be flexible enough to change your recommendations, your guidelines, your policies, depending upon the information and the data as it evolves. If you look at what we knew in February compared to what we know now [about COVID-19], there really are a lot of differences. The role of masks, the role of aerosol, the role of indoor vs. outdoors, closed spaces. You've just got to be humble enough to realize that we don't know it all from the get-go and even as we get into it."
Existing Healthcare Disparities Need to Be Addressed
"And finally … if ever there is going to be a real incentive for us to now make a commitment to address the social determinants of health, it's got to be now. We've seen it with HIV. … We have 13% African Americans and close to 50% of new [COVID-19] infections in the United States are African Americans. We have 13% African Americans and now look at the number of hospitalizations with COVID with African Americans and Latinx. We have got to address that. This has to be a real eye-opener for us to do that."
How to Avoid COVID-19
Fauci strongly recommends to wear your face mask and avoid crowds, social distance, only run essential errands, wash your hands frequently, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, once again don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.