Finding A Solution To COVID-19 Takes Time - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Lloyd Lim

Lloyd Lim was a lawyer in government and the private sector and ran a private business. He is the author of several nonfiction books and blogs, and he was born and raised in Hawaii.

We have all gone up a steep learning curve with this novel coronavirus. But I’m concerned about all the finger pointing when so much of the solution requires a technological response and when there was (and is) so much we didn’t (and don’t) know. It takes time for science to find solutions.

An early letter to the editor asked why the state government hadn’t stockpiled tests in advance. Because it’s a novel coronavirus, with different RNA, and you need a new test.

The first good tests were around $200 and required medically trained people to administer them while wearing protective gear. So ramping up to very large numbers was never going to be easy.

More recently, cheaper tests of less accuracy have been developed. We badly need a cheap test that we can self-administer at home. Not to replace the better test, but to do initial, frequent screenings.

Of course, tests are imperfect, and it depends on when you test, because the period when a person is most infectious isn’t forever. And who, since the virus affects different people differently.

Scientists will eventually find a vaccine for COVID-19, but there are ways to combat the virus now. Flickr: Masa Israel Journey

Contact tracing is harder to do with a virus that spreads as fast as COVID-19 does (exponentially). Some Asian countries have done better. But there are reasons for that.

China had already reached a level of authoritarian technological control over its citizens, such that their smart phones could be used to assist in contact tracing.

And because we have federalism in the United States, where the police power which includes health, safety and welfare is reserved to the several states, we aren’t going to have a uniform governmental solution. If one believes that would be a good idea in the first place.

And data collection itself is a problem. How do we know what is going on? Are the methods of data collection systematic and standardized, if they even exist?

Dismal Communications

Some have argued for years that we Americans should consolidate medical information, but there are concerns about privacy and cybersecurity.

South Korea was prepared because they had experienced an epidemic before and got ready in advance. And observe that half of the 51 million people of South Korea live in greater Seoul.

It is harder to control results in a country the size of the United States, although I’m not sure that lets those of us off the hook who live on a small island in the middle of a vast ocean.

Some of the communications have been dismal. We started with wild projections from computer models that didn’t have real data in them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases initially told us not to wear masks because they wouldn’t protect the wearer and because they wanted to conserve them for medical uses. But they later realized that masks can protect other people and you don’t need the top end medical mask used for surgery to have a big impact.

For months, CDC ran a television commercial suggesting that the virus was mainly a problem for older people and those with chronic conditions. Many young people thought it wasn’t a problem if they took risks.

CDC and NIAID advocated the 6-foot distancing limitation, but what got lost was the fact that this was only a guideline, not a law of physics. Not everyone understood that airborne droplets with the virus could travel farther than six feet.

Nor did everyone understand that the duration of the exposure was a key factor in setting the guideline and that if the exposure exceeded, say, 12 minutes, then the 6-foot rule might not work anymore.

I want to believe that everyone understood without being told that being trapped in an elevator for two hours with an infectious person would be worse than walking past them in the park at a distance of 10 feet.

Now all we hear about are the masks, but still more important is the need to wash your hands regularly, but particularly before you do something like rub your eyes.

A lockdown is a horribly blunt instrument, like using a shotgun to kill a gnat. It is not a medical solution. We use it because we don’t have a vaccine. The side effects are very bad.

A lockdown is a horribly blunt instrument.

In the end, we will need multiple approaches: vaccines, therapeutics, social distancing, masks, hand-washing, testing, contact tracing, and the list goes on.

But the main reason we are not doing as well as we would like to with this novel coronavirus is that it takes time to find out what the truth is, and to develop good technological solutions.

Take heart. We’re not at the end yet, but we are several months closer to the end than when we began.

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About the Author

Lloyd Lim

Lloyd Lim was a lawyer in government and the private sector and ran a private business. He is the author of several nonfiction books and blogs, and he was born and raised in Hawaii.

Latest Comments (0)

Yes, a solution takes time, but that does not give our leaders the right to "waste" time either.

Squirrelee · 1 year ago

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