Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Reducing flu risk key to managing COVID-19 long-term, former FDA commissioner says

Over time, COVID-19 will become endemic, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb writes for The Atlantic. But that doesn't mean it won't be a significant public health challenge, especially considering it will likely have similar affects to the seasonal flu, creating a dual viral threat every year.

Gottlieb lays out a series of tactics health officials, businesses, and schools should take to proactively combat the situation, including encouraging remote work during the peak of flu and COVID-19 season, equipping buildings with improved airflow and filtration systems, producing antiviral drugs specific to COVID-19, and pushing widespread home testing. 

These measures will help fight the coronavirus, Gottlieb writes, but will likely "only partially interrupt" its spread because people often transmit the virus before they have symptoms, and it can travel long distances in poorly ventilated spaces. However, the strategies should still come in handy since "they could have a greater impact on the spread of a virus like influenza." If the threat of the flu alone is reduced enough, "the cumulative threat from these two pathogens becomes a burden more comparable to that of a bad flu season like the winter of 2018," Gottlieb explains. That's still a dangerous situation, but one that's more manageable than having two separate, equally-sized viral outbreaks working in tandem. Read Gottlieb's full piece at The Atlantic.