2021 could be the year we defeat Covid-19

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Photo: Anton/Unsplash

It’s not time for despair. It’s time to fix things and move our country forward.

There was a point in time in this pandemic when we didn’t know up from down. There was a time when people in charge were describing up as down.

We’ve seen the worst of the worst. We’ve been through hell, and we’re not done. We’ve lost things that can’t be regained. We alternate between fear, anger, loss of hope, and occasional real glimpses of life. But we are surviving, and we are remembering.

Extraordinary people are out there. In labs, holding hands with our loved ones, volunteering. And I choose to think of them and all of you when I think of this country. Not those waving the flag but those who live its values and try to make us better. …


There’s still plenty of unknowns, but here’s a few takeaways

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Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH

Here’s the best we know about the impact of the South African strain, and the impact on the vaccine from lots of conversations I’ve had with experts.

To begin with, we are back to assuming a modest and humble position that there’s a lot we don’t know, just like we were early on. When we are in the “there’s a lot we don’t know” stage, I like to air on the side of caution. Risking being wrong is no reason not to act. Acting wisely with the best we know can save the most lives.

What we know about the most significant variances is that they are more infectious. That’s why we noticed them. Important and subtle point I keep hearing: The virus is mutating in less visible and measurable ways that we can’t see as easily and therefore can’t address. …


We have begun to fight, but we are not out of harm’s way yet

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Today is a day filled with so many important reminders.

First — on the vaccine. Today is not the day of triumph. It is not the day of victory over Covid-19. But today is the day when we showed up to the fight.

Today is the day our troops landed on the beaches. And like Normandy, many many didn’t make it. They gave themselves not willingly but because the country proved defenseless.

Unlike other wars, we have had 300,000 casualties. Civilian casualties. Casualties of people that did not have to die. People who lost an average of 10 years. …


People who say “it’s always darkest before the dawn” usually don’t have a clue when the dawn will come. But this time we do.

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Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

Have you been enjoying Andy Slavitt’s coronavirus updates? He’ll be discussing the future of the pandemic with Elemental editor-in-chief Sarah Collins on December 8th at 4pm ET. Visit this link to register for this (free!) event.

There’s a trite expression that it’s always darkest before the dawn. I want to talk about the dark. And the dawn. This expression typically means keep going. When it feels rough, muscle through. And I rather like this expression.

For people with depression, they often describe things as being dark. And who they hell hasn’t been suffering through some depression? …


And why I hope you will, too

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Photo: Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

Have you been enjoying Andy Slavitt’s coronavirus updates? He’ll be discussing the future of the pandemic with Elemental editor-in-chief Sarah Collins on December 8th at 4pm ET. Visit this link to register for this (free!) event.

By December 13 or soon after, vaccines for Covid-19 will likely be ready to roll out. Tens of millions will be ready to go, month by month. First to health care workers, then to nursing homes, then to other high-risk populations.

There are milestones to get there and data to review, but preparations are underway. I recently talked with scientists and distributors. …


Vaccines will be a story of the process working the way it’s supposed to (and how good people get it done)

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

With the vaccine progress today, is Operation Warp Speed for real? It’s a great story but not what it appears.

First, let’s be clear on our accomplishment. From January 11, when the sequence for the virus arrived from China, to around December 13, when needles will start to enter arms, only 11 months will have passed. Vaccine development can typically be a seven-year process or worse— HIV and the common cold have no vaccine.

Operation Warp Speed has had phases. The idea, the planning, the decisions, and the work. This was hatched by Peter Marks of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). …


Why Europe is doing a much better job handling Covid-19

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Photo by Eduardo Rodriguez on Unsplash

I was doing an interview with the Star Tribune in October when I was asked a tough question: “Andy, you say the U.S. can be down to near zero cases in six weeks like other countries in the world.”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Doesn’t Europe’s spike prove you wrong?”

“No. They’re going to show us how again.” I added that these waves may be inevitable, but in the meantime — from May to October, we lost four times the lives they did. I said fighting a new wave from zero is like battling a wild dog. Starting from where we were was like fighting off a pack of dogs. You use different weapons. From zero you can test, contact trace, and isolate. …


In a couple of months, things will be looking up. Be grateful it will not be years.

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Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

If the state you live in is adding restrictions on holidays, gatherings, or dining — believe me when I tell you, it’s the last thing they wanted to do. Most are even too late and many will reverse it too early.

Just because something is legal and still allowed doesn’t make it smart. There are no helmet laws where I live. But the government can’t make me not wear a helmet.

Politicians by and large are the worst arbiters here. They want you to like them. So by the time they do this, it’s bad.

I’ve had restaurant owners that they love tell me how careful they are and how good their practices are. And I believe them. They are getting screwed by Mitch McConnell. Want to make a fuss about it, that’s the fuss to make. …


Not quitting in the face of failure is noble

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Photo by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash

When we lose someone to Covid-19 there are things to remember.

We have lost 230,000 people in the U.S. to Covid, likely more, and it’s not slowing down soon. This is what happens.

One of the profound contrasts is how something that has roots in broad community spread ends up in the most lonely of experiences. There’s no longer great mystery left as to how Covid-19 spreads. It is largely through the respiratory system, and while it is an inconvenience to do so, that makes preventing and controlling it easy to understand. We want to avoid those particles when others laugh, cry, talk, and exhale. …


Every 10% additional non-compliant people adds to 100,000 lost lives

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Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash

If you want to avoid getting and spreading Covid-19, Mark Meadows is right. There’s not one thing you can do. There are six.

The truth is no one thing works perfectly — including a vaccine. But a combination of things works great. This image captures it the best.

About

Andy Slavitt

Former Medicare, Medicaid & ACA head for Pres. Barack Obama. https://twitter.com/ASlavitt

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