One of the most important topics for the upcoming presidential election in the US will be the next government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 testing started late and left the US unprepared for the initial wave. With an ongoing, even larger second wave oncoming, the US is seeing no sign of relief in sight at the beginning of the fall season, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Philipp Rosenbaum, PhD, Senior Infectious Diseases Analyst at GlobalData comments: “The Trump administration is strongly supporting the development of COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines, most notably with Operation Warp Speed, which pledged up to $10bn for COVID-19 vaccine development. However, testing is still not ubiquitously available, and the lack of national guidance on regulations and efforts to mitigate further spread of the virus led to a patchwork of regulations at the state and municipal levels. The Trump administration is counting on the rapid development of therapeutics and especially vaccines, and hopes on a quick vaccine roll-out.
“While a vaccine will likely be available next year – or possibly in very late 2020 for a small subset of at-risk patients – most people will not receive their doses until mid or late 2021. Furthermore, it is still unclear how well, and for how long, a vaccine will protect against SARS-CoV-2, and many people are sceptic of a quick vaccine rollout. Thus, having no policies in place other than accelerated drug development, will leave the US in a bad situation both on a public health level, as well as economically.”
Meanwhile, the Biden campaign promises that the administration will listen to scientists to ensure that public health decisions are informed by public health professionals, and it will work to restore the trust, transparency and accountability of the federal government.
Rosenbaum continues: “The Biden campaign’s seven-point plan to beat COVID-19 includes many measures other countries already have implemented, and which could be easily adapted in the US. A mask mandate is one of the easiest mandates to implement and research shows that many COVID-19 cases could be prevented using this method.
Strict regulations and national guidance are required to keep case numbers and deaths low, and countries such as New Zealand, Senegal and Denmark have shown how the virus can be controlled. Denmark, for example, began closing its borders, schools and restaurants early on and prevented the pandemic to gain a strong hold in the country. The Danish government asked its citizens to stay at home and maintain social distance, and the clear message and trust in the government was
Rosenbaum concluded: “A clear public health message and restored trust in federal authorities is needed to encourage people to follow public health measures. However, this late in the pandemic, it will become harder to motivate people to practice social distancing, and the deep ideological rift in the country will make even the most ambitious policies hard to implement.”