Lessons from the Pandemic


On STAT News, its senior infectious disease writer Helen Branswell shares 10 Covid-19 pandemic lessons that she learned during the past two years. I found her perspective interesting and thought to bookmark her observations which are highlighted below:

  • You gotta act fast. “if you wait until you’re sure that something is going to be a disaster before seizing every opportunity to alter its trajectory, you’ve made the outbreak much, much worse. 
  • Simplicity rules. “The schemes were too complex to operationalize.
  • The calculus for kids is just different. “Call me naive, but it never occurred to me before this pandemic that political leaders would put the lives of their citizens at risk by downplaying or downright lying about a disease outbreak, just because telling the truth might jeopardize their political fortunes. …. The virus doesn’t vote and it doesn’t care how we do. It’s only looking for respiratory tracts to infect. I assumed we’d all understand that.
  • Most people have no clue how science works. And that’s a problem. “Science education in this and a number of countries is woefully inadequate. As a result, people do not understand the iterative nature of science.
  • Downplaying what lies ahead helps no one. ” .. being first and having the know-how to turn a good prototype into massive amounts of vaccine while at the same time successfully navigating regulatory processes has been a winning combination for the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership.
  • In a pandemic, it’s pretty much every country for itself. “I hate that this is true. But I fear that it is. … The world has suffered from the fact that we are not working together to try to end the pandemic. Rich countries buying up most of the available vaccines, pharmaceutical companies refusing to share vaccine formulas and production know-how, countries blocking exports of oxygen and personal protective equipment — all this has drawn out the pandemic and made it more difficult to endure.
  • Conducting clinical trials during a pandemic is doable, but it takes coordination. “It is enormously challenging to plan and conduct clinical trials during a disease crisis — especially trials large enough to come to a solid conclusion about whether the drug or vaccine being tested actually works.
  • Americans are willing to put up with a lot of death. ” More people died from Covid in 2021 than died from Covid in 2020. In 2021, swaths of the country fought mask mandates, opposed vaccination mandates, objected to any measure designed to slow the spread of Covid that they perceived as an impediment on their ability to resume pre-pandemic activities.