Panelists discuss missed opportunities during Covid-19 science summit

|
Clockwise from top left, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara, Brandeis University professor Dr. Michael Rosbash, and Stanford University associate professor Dr. Michael Lin.
Clockwise from top left, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara, Brandeis University professor Dr. Michael Rosbash, and Stanford University associate professor Dr. Michael Lin.

The U.S. response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been deficient, especially in terms of testing and societal buy-in for face coverings, experts said during an online summit Wednesday hosted by Carnival Corp. and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

More than 17,000 people listened to the Global Scientific Summit on Covid-19 as Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald and WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara moderated three panels with speakers that included experts from Stanford, Harvard, the Mayo Clinic and other universities and institutes.

The most common theme throughout was the need for everyone to wear a mask and avoid crowds, and the importance of better and more frequent testing in the U.S.

Donald and Guevara purposefully avoided specific travel or cruise-related questions, with both wanting to stick to “just the science,” Donald said.

Dr. Stuart Schreiber, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University and co-founder of the Broad Institute, said the U.S. lacks an “overarching and well-thought-out national policy.”

Top: Dr. Thomas Cahill, founder of Newpath Management. Bottom: Harvard University professor Dr. Stuart Schreiber.
Top: Dr. Thomas Cahill, founder of Newpath Management. Bottom: Harvard University professor Dr. Stuart Schreiber.

“If we need to undergo another lockdown, then shame on us,” Schreiber said. “This would be a failure of testing.”

Schreiber said that if asymptomatic people are tested and those who test positive are quarantined for 10 to 14 days, the virus would “burn out.”

“We do believe we could burn out the virus in the absence of a vaccine,” he said, but Schreiber added that “compliance in the U.S. is not high. Even if we were to do this, we’d have a risk of failing because we have a lack of compliance.

“What we’re doing is woefully inadequate,” he said.

Comparing our response to those of other nations, “clearly there are things we can do better as a country,” said Dr. Michael Lin, associate professor of neurobiology, bioengineering and chemical and systems biology at Stanford University. “We need to do more testing, be smarter about the testing, and be more compliant with very simple public health measure such as the wearing of face coverings. 

“In the U.S., we didn’t shut down as effectively as Europe,” he added. “Philosophically, America is different. In Italy, armed military police prevented people from gathering outdoors. We’re loathe to do that in the U.S. Our shutdown didn't reach the same level of effectiveness.”

He added that South Korea and Japan, where there is extensive use of masks and careful contact tracing, have mitigated the spread better than the U.S.

“All of these things matter, and as a society we can still improve on all of these things,” he said. “We see the effect of not taking it as seriously as other countries have.”

Lin was among many of the experts who said that “personal responsibility is still key.”

“The virus can be defeated by personal actions alone, but testing will be a big aid in terms of speeding up the process to keeping the virus at a lower level,” he said. “Wearing masks reduces the risk by 80% to 96%. In theory, if everyone wore a mask for two weeks, this epidemic would end.”

When Donald asked the panelists what they would and would not feel comfortable doing right now, bars surfaced as a big no-no, in part because people tend to speak loudly.

The beach, Lin said, is one of safest activities, if groups stay more than 10 feet from each other, and especially if they wear masks.

Comments

From Our Partners

2019 Riviera River Cruises Webinar
Riviera River Cruises – Summer Surprises
Register Now
Uganda_Hero
Uganda
Read More
2020 Uganda Webinar 2
Uganda’s Vast Horizons Await
Watch Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI