Why Science And Social Distancing Will Save The Day

Governor Janet Mills announced Tuesday the additional “Stay Healthy at Home” measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Maine, a move that’s since been applauded by the leader of the Jackson Laboratory, Edison Liu.

This is because according to preliminary models of the disease progression in Maine, the virus will reportedly hit a peak sometime in the third week of April, which is why Mills is “trying, very reasonably, to get ahead of that curve. I applaud her for having the courage to do this,“ per Liu.

In a conversation with Nadia Rosenthal, Jackson Laboratory’s scientific director, Liu was able to describe his time when he was the executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore, a time which coincided with the SARS outbreak in 2003. According to him, genomic technology at the time was still very new. From there, they were able to sequence the genetic material, which then gave important insights about the structure of the virus.

“Just like the COVID-19 epidemic, it [SARS outbreak] started in the winter at the same time as the seasonal flu. So you have people presenting to their doctors with the flu, yet they have this new, much more virulent virus that is lurking in their bodies. The first people they will infect in the ER are first responders, nurses and doctors,” he said.

According to Liu, it’s also not a good idea to fight the coronavirus by letting people get sick and then curing them afterwards because “in order to achieve herd immunity, 70-80 percent need to be rendered resistant.” This is because if at least 70-80 percent of the people have COVID-19, this means that around 3 million Americans will die, while 30 million will have to go to the hospital.

This, according to him, is not the price that people should pay. As such, preventive measures and policies like social distancing should be practiced. At the end of the day, however, it’s the vaccine that will carry us all the way.

“We will have a vaccine and we will have antivirals. We don’t like the fact that there’s a new pathogen in our midst but I’m confident we can get through it,” he said.

Coronavirus COVID-19 temporary hospital - Central Park, New York A temporary hospital is built in Central Park on the East Meadow lawn on March 30, 2020 in New York City. The facility is a partnership between Mt. Sinai Hospital and Christian humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse, equipped with 68 beds to treat COVID-19 patients. John Lamparski/Getty Images

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