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'It's embarrassing' if we repeat our pandemic mistakes, doctor says of new COVID roadmap

·Senior Reporter
·4 min read
In this article:
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COVID-19 cases may be declining globally, but the world is far from out of the pandemic woods. The U.K., for example, is seeing a surge from the Omicron sub-variant, which has also been reported in New York, causing health experts to be wary of rollbacks in COVID-prevention strategies nationally.

It's why a group of top public experts, including former advisers on President Joe Biden's COVID-19 transition team, have created a new roadmap with recommendations for the government and private sector to prepare for the next pandemic and the challenges COVID-19 still poses today.

"The mood of the American public, the demands of the economy and society, and the difficulties posed by a virus that constantly surprises the experts present new and unique challenges," the authors wrote.

That includes things like long-COVID (the long-lasting impact on the body from the disease) and how to care for those who continue to suffer from it two years into the pandemic.

Some of the recommendations in the 136-page document address public health infrastructure and the need for better realtime data, better communication by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and figuring out how to reach an 85% vaccination threshold.

"For an outsider, who doesn't want to read the report, you'll think this is just either right-wing or left-wing fluff," said Dr. Howard Forman, a health professor at Yale University and co-host of the Health & Veritas podcast.

Forman told Yahoo Finance that people from both sides of the aisle have criticized the report, but that the White House and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been open to the recommendations.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2022/03/09: A protester holds up a placard demanding research into Long Covid-19 during the demonstration.
A protest group in Parliament Square demands the government invest some money into researching Long Covid-19. They say many people are experiencing life-changing injuries due to health complications following exposure to Covid-19 variants in the last two years. (Photo by Martin Pope/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2022/03/09: A protester holds up a placard demanding research into Long Covid-19 during the demonstration. A protest group in Parliament Square demands the government invest some money into researching Long Covid-19. They say many people are experiencing life-changing injuries due to health complications following exposure to Covid-19 variants in the last two years. (Photo by Martin Pope/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The new normal-ish

While states have rolled back protection strategies and restrictions, public health experts have repeatedly warned that the virus is not done with the country yet.

"We're not going to be at a completely normal state. We're still seeing many, many more deaths than we ever would have accepted pre-pandemic," Forman said, citing the rising cases in the U.K.

The U.S. underperformed and has underinvested in its response to the pandemic, Forman said, adding that the opportunity to fix those problems is now, as the country experiences yet another valley in cases.

"It's acceptable to make big mistakes one time, but if we make them over and over again, it's unacceptable. It's embarrassing for our nation that we should ever have to make those mistakes again," Forman said.

One of the most pressing issues is the number of individuals still living long COVID, Forman said. "That's an opportunity for us to do something now that will pay dividends in the long run by answering questions that we really ought have answered by now."

Another area that needs to be better addressed, the authors note, is the misinformation which lead to a slow uptake of vaccines in some states.

"I'm hoping that the divisiveness around vaccines may fade into the background in time and that we might still have a chance of getting more people vaccinated. We're still losing, as you know, hundreds of people every day that absolutely could have been saved if not for vaccinations," Forman said.

In addition, testing remains a problem as the response to the Biden administration's free mailed test kits has been low.

Forman hopes that the report gets its due attention to help ensure a better way out of the pandemic and to avoid such devastating consequences in the future.

"It's not a game plan for a family," he said. "It's a game plan for government and for private firms."

Follow Anjalee on Twitter @AnjKhem

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