We ’ll Probably Never Eliminate COVID-19 from the U.S. It’s Still Worth Trying

2021 got off to a grim pandemic start in the U.S. A huge surge in COVID-19 cases followed the holiday season, peaking at around 300,000 new cases on Jan. 8, 2020. More than 20,000 Americans lost their lives to the virus in a single week in January alone and over 146,00 in total have died since the start of the year. But six weeks later, the picture looks more promising. New daily cases have fallen sharply, daily deaths have fallen to levels not seen since Thanksgiving, and the pace of vaccine roll-out is speeding up. These positive trends mean that we can now begin to ask what the endgame might look like. Would we be happy with an endemic scenario in which disease levels are kept low but SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate indefinitely, perhaps with the same kinds of seasonal peaks as we see with flu? Or should we aim higher and attempt to eliminate the disease, meaning there would be no new cases of that disease within our borders? A third scenario is eradication—achieving zero new cases worldwide—but this would be an enormous and highly uncertain global undertaking (we’ve only eradicated one human infectious disease, smallpox). For elimination in the U.S., we’d need to be able to detect all imported cases at the border and place those people in managed isolation until they are no longer infectious. We’d also need a high-performing surveillance system that can test enough Americans every day to be able to quickly detect and extinguish any outbrea...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized COVID-19 Source Type: news