It’s time to be honest. Despite all the scientific talk, no one yet has control over the COVID-19 crisis. No one can say for sure where or how it began. Nobody knows when it will end.
The possibility that COVID will be with us for some time (despite predictions by Dr. Anthony Fauci and others that we can expect positive news sometime in 2023) is real. By then, if Fauci and others are right, we’ve learned how to live with it, and deal with inevitable outbreaks similar to how we deal with the flu. However, this will require planning, making changes to the healthcare device and the pharmaceutical approval process, and relying on technology.
Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to cut federal red tape and get the drug industry to work on finding a coronavirus vaccine, has been a game-changer. It gave hope to every American that a solution was on the horizon. The vaccines it produced were largely effective, however, there is still uncertainty about their long-term effectiveness.
The current thinking is that at least one booster dose will be needed. The emergence of the Delta variant was a setback, leading to calls for mandates including masks, vaccines and special passports. Uncertainty remains, making it imperative for leaders in the political, scientific, and media spheres to continue to focus on innovative ways to address Americans’ concerns.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization now say that COVID is transmitted through tiny droplets and aerosols that spread through indoor spaces. Fighting means thinking differently. To achieve this, we must rely on private industry initiatives to develop ways to eliminate airborne pathogens and reduce the possibility of surface transmission. When one comes along, we should talk about it and celebrate it because, like the vaccines produced through Operation Warp Speed, it offers hope as well as an extra layer of protection.
One technology that shows promise is an air purification system known as ActivePure, which was originally developed by NASA. This technology searches for pathogens through a process known as advanced photocatalysis, which sends submicroscopic particles in real time to inactivate pathogens, including COVID-19 and other viruses.
The ActivePure proactive air defense system is already in use in high-risk indoor environments including the Cleveland Clinic, The Texas State Capitol, and Philadelphia public schools. Additionally, groups like ThermoFisher Scientific are rolling out new technology to monitor aerosol sensors, which could allow hospitals, nursing homes and schools to track the presence of the virus, providing critical knowledge to inform mitigation strategies.
Innovators work hard creating solutions for retailers as well. Intel’s RealSense, a non-touch control software that transforms kiosks into non-touch interfaces without radically modifying the intuitive user experience. These changes are helping to get brick-and-mortar foundations back in business safely.
Nobody can predict the future. America’s leadership in the health sciences is a vital part of the exploration process that will produce new ways to prevent the spread of the pathogens that lead to outbreaks of COVID-19 and other viruses.
Lockdowns throughout 2020 didn’t work out as intended — and badly damaged the booming economy. A different strategy is required for the next outbreak. This will require the government to speed up the regulatory approval process in key areas, partner with forward-thinking startups, while adopting new innovations to prepare for the upcoming national health emergency.
Peter Rove is a former columnist for UPI and US News & World Report and is now affiliated with several public policy organizations in Washington, DC. Connect with Roff at RoffColumns@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.