Transcript of video
Professor Saad Omer, on the 23rd of January 2020, you wrote in New York Times an opinion article about COVID-19 Coronavirus, titled, Is America ready for another outbreak? And you said, “We don’t know how bad it will get. But there is no excuse for not getting ready for the worst.” Today is exactly one year later. Professor Saad Omer, how does the reality of COVID-19 compare to what you anticipated exactly a year ago? And is there anything about COVID-19 that exceeded your expectations in a positive way. That’s a good question. Unfortunately, that article about COVID-19 ended up being a bit prescient. And it had some implications. The fact that we didn’t follow some of the things that I outlined in that article. What if we want to have a response to this COVID-19 outbreak? At that time, it wasn’t a pandemic. We need to have science-led communication. We need to have. We need to make sure that we do not falsely reassure the public by trying to reduce the anxiety in the short term but reducing trust in messaging in the long run. And that unfortunately happened. I also said that the decision making should be with the scientists, or policy development should be close to scientists, scientific know-how about COVID-19. And the reason for that is that we knew that in any new pathogen that is emerging, there is a difference. There is ever-changing information. And the closer the gap, the shorter the gap between the ability to synthesize emerging information on COVID-19 and policy, the better the policy decisions are. The things that happened as a pleasant surprise, the things that happened on the positive side, is the development of vaccines against COVID-19 within a year. And the development of multiple vaccines using multiple technologies. I think that was no accident. It was a concerted effort throughout the world in and including in the US that led to the development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines that give us realistic options of controlling this COVID-19 outbreak. That’s certainly very important. And now, one year on, we’re facing another COVID-19 wave, and there are some coronavirus mutations coming out from Brazil and the UK. I think it was just breaking news that the actual UK COVID-19 mutation could be more serious in terms of the clinical course.