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Best solutions: Is COVID-19 showing us how to plan for future pandemics?

  • 4 min to read

MANSFIELD -- Our weekly charge with this solutions-oriented column is to find ideas that others are floating about on how to best address the coronavirus.

Larry Phillips mug shot

Richland Source managing editor Larry Phillips. He's led the Source newsrooms since 2016. 

To that end, this week we're looking at a variety of topics, from studies that use models showing the virus may be far more widespread than we know, and therefore far less deadly than we feared, to how we may be finding useful information in preparing for future catastrophic events.

With that in mind, let's take a look at what's being reported around the world.

Remember, the goal is to introduce the story and offer a link to explore and make your own judgement.

Preparing for the next pandemic

This is from the Wall Street Journal, so there's a paywall involved. It argues that at some point this pandemic will end, and it's not too early to ask, what happens next? Also, what needs to happen so we can best avoid a similar scenario in the future?

Our war against future pandemics

The Times in the United Kingdom reviews a book titled Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, by Michael Osterholm and Mark Olshaker. It was a pandemic prophecy and makes a case for how to fight future epidemics. Again, there is a paywall after the first paragraph, but it does offer a free trial.

Block COVID-19 from infecting humans? University of Louisville touts a 'breakthrough'

The Lexington Herald-Leader spotlights a claim from the University of Louisville that it has developed technology that it believes will block coronavirus from infecting human cells. It is seeking fast-track development for the new technology and has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing approval.

What's the new normal?

This is a Minneapolis Star-Tribune Q&A interview with Michael Osterholm, author of the book cited above. He is trying to battle the narrative of those who want to shelter in place. "One of the messages we have to give is getting people back to the middle," Osterholm said. "We need to think about what we might see when we loosen up society again, knowing that transmission will occur. [At that point], we make every effort to … protect those most vulnerable. And we continue to emphasize social distancing, all the things that happen there. We don’t want people to be isolated … [but we have to] keep the hospitals from being overrun. We keep doing that until we get a vaccine."

NASA partners with joins California team to develop COVID-19 solutions

This comes to us from NASA, and talks about NASA's work with a group in California's Antelope Valley. One of this collaboration's first efforts was to build a prototype oxygen hood that has now proven to work for the doctors at the hospital. The production of 500 will begin this week at TSC’s Faith Facility in Mojave.

The more we learn, is COVID-19 as deadly as we feared?

Granted, the models used before this epidemic have proven wildly inaccurate, but are we learning to do them better? This is a Los Angeles County Public Health Study conducted by professors at USC and focused on Los Angeles County. Like a similar study at Stanford for that region of California, it suggests the number of COVID-19 infections far exceeds the number of confirmed cases in Los Angeles County. That means the new coronavirus is far more widespread - and the fatality rate much lower - in L.A. County than previously thought.

What we can (and can't) take away from New York's antibody testing results

NBC News in New York took a stab at analyzing Gov. Andrew Cuomo's revelation that a study showed far more New Yorkers may have COVID-19 than previously believed. Understanding how many people have been infected is critical for public health officials to gauge when it might be safe for states to begin easing strict social distancing measures.

Sweden's lack of a lockdown offers another data point

How is Sweden managing without a lockdown? Many around the world have been following this closely. The latest findings in Sweden echo the two stories above. This story from Forbes cites a model, and the accuracy of models has understandably been called into question. This April 21 story cites a model noting there will be 600,000 coronavirus infections in Stockholm by May 1, meaning 11 percent of its population has already developed antibodies to COVID-19. So far, Sweden's death rate is higher than that of its Nordic neighbors in Denmark, Norway, and Finland and less than Italy, Spain or the United Kingdom.

Check back in with us next week and we'll see what we can find on our next lap around the world in COVID-19.

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