Less than a month before the November 3rd elections, the United States faces the tragic reality of more than 210,000 deaths from COVID-19 and nearly 7.5 million cases, including that of President Donald Trump. This dire situation is only made worse with the start of new curve infections, with worrying numbers in a growing number of states, just as winter and flu season approaches.
But it’s not all bad news. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), two of the 5 most promising vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are already in phase 3, that is, in the testing stage among thousands of participants to determine their two most important requirements, that they are safe and effective.
It is possible that by the end of 2020, if their reliability and efficacy are confirmed, the vaccines will be available to healthcare workers and to patients with chronic diseases that make them susceptible to severe complications. For the rest of the population, it is likely that the vaccine will be in gradual and progressive availability by the first months of 2021.
However, even in the most optimistic of scenarios, no vaccine is a magic bullet, and we must keep our guard up with the three most effective recommendations to prevent infections: wear masks, maintain appropriate social distance, and wash your hands thoroughly. Collective health begins with individual responsibility.
In this horizon of chiaroscuro, few medical episodes have had the power to focus our attention on the existential danger that COVID-19 represents, that the contagion of the president of the United States. The lesson is clear: In the face of this microscopic virus, no one is safe, not even the most powerful person on the planet.
But the case also teaches us that the main threat to public health since the Spanish Influenza pandemic of the last century must be taken with the seriousness it deserves and must be faced with the resources of science, to return as soon as possible to a new type of personal and collective, social and economic normality.
Unlike the month of March, when we did not know if the masks worked or if there would be a vaccine, today we have learned. We already know that masks, social distancing, and hand washing work; Vaccines are just around the corner and you are less likely to die from complications of COVID 19.
But many signs confirm that we are not out of the woods. The United States, with 4% of the world’s population, continues to account for a quarter of all infections and a large portion of the Latino and African-American communities distrust vaccines.
COVID has perversely managed to turn the November 3 elections into an existential referendum. Who do we trust to get out of this huge black hole? Which candidate has the leadership to give the country the roadmap to get ahead? The answer to those essential questions could be a matter of life and death.
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