COVID-19 Update and Implications for the Future

This article is part of World War “V”: The COVID-19 Pandemic, a collection of all CNS COVID-19-related articles.

May 29, 2020

Webinar: Took place on May 22, 2020

Dr. Richard Pilch, director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Nonproliferation Program, delivered a webinar on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for future biosecurity and public health.

With a focus on the United States—which now has the highest number of cases and deaths—Dr. Pilch discusses: Where are we now? How did we get here? Where do we go from here? And how can we ensure that this never happens again?

United States: Strategies for the Near Future

Using data from Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Pilch emphasized that we are still at the beginning stages of the pandemic. The “curve”—the visual representation of the number of cases—is now plateauing, not decreasing. Whereas countries like China and South Korea focused on a suppression approach, the United States has adopted a mitigation approach, which aims to “flatten the curve” through “leaky” social distancing, which will build herd immunity in an attempt to “pre-empt a later peak.” Our current plateau represents an opportunity for the United States to get in front of the impending next curve, though it is an opportunity that the United States is missing by failing to institute effective, at-scale testing and contract-tracing capacities. Furthermore, this weakness is exacerbated by a lack of a “real understanding” of the current prevalence of the virus.

In his discussion of the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Dr. Pilch emphasized the need to address both animal-human interface as well as laboratory safety and high-risk research to prevent the next pandemic.

Watch the webinar on YouTube to learn more about where we go from here: what we need, what we need to do, and the possible outcome scenarios.

CNS Speakers

Dr. William Potter
CNS Founding Director

CNS Expert
Dr. Richard Pilch
Director, Biological and Chemical Weapons Nonproliferation Program

Jean duPreez
Senior Program Manager for Education

Special thanks to the Pilch daughters for helping their Dad put together the PowerPoint slides.

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