In a new LISD commentary, "Covid-19 and Our Community: Phase I", Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, D.Laws, Ph.D., Founding Director of LISD, and Dr. Annegret Dettwiler-Danspeckgruber, PI at PNI, explore the medical, socioeconomic and psychological challenges of dealing with a crisis in real-time. They argue that in fact, "It is not what the virus does to us, but what we make out of it. Let us hence not succumb to blame games, or even racist accusations, let us not give in to foster division. In this time of acute crisis, we have to stand together – all of us." The opinions expressed in this and all LISD Commentaries are those of the authors.
Today, 1 in 4 inhabitants within the United States is confined to his/her home. The current condition of our society would have been unthinkable still just two weeks ago. The limitation of the freedom and mobility of Americans – which is hitherto untested in magnitude - is potentially and over time increasingly difficult to master. Confronted with an unprecedented challenge to health and well-being for us, our family & friends, our community & country – really the society as we have known it, there appears to loom also a serious material challenge to our economy, industrial output, travel sector and faltering markets – all together neither precisely comforting nor calming. Such a pandemic crisis has a middle/high intensity phase following the first introductory and incubation phase. Here in New Jersey we seem now to move into Phase II. We all ought to remain alert and concerned about the possible “secondary effects” of this mega crisis for our families, community and society: we have to keep a healthy equilibrium and psychologically sustainable balance about dealing with the afore mentioned curtailing of our personal freedoms while being able to deal with the continuous bombardment with more (negative) news and (dire) predictions.
Already now, in regions with high numbers of cases and hospitalizations, the capacities of some hospitals and in particular intensive care units, are reaching their limit with regard to space and insufficient equipment (especially respirators). Federal, state, communities, and military should really cooperate and be able to distribute from underused storages and also to purchase from abroad. There is an argument to be made for public-private procurement. In the medical realm, more efficient testing (test results will be available within one hour) and higher test availability will allow for more rigorous testing policies and hence should significantly decrease the spread of covid-19. The four most promising treatment options, as put together by the WHO, are currently being evaluated in global megatrials. They include Remdesivir; Cloroquine; Hydroxychloroquine in combination with an antibiotic (Zithromax); Ritonavir/lopinavir sold under the brand name Kaletra. It is, however, important to note that most of these medications have only been minimally tested. For example hydroxychloroquine has so far only been formally tested by a French group in 24 Covid-19 positive patients – hence in a very small sample and more rigorous testing is imperative before this medication is widely used. The problem is that while the case number in China seems to have peaked by now – even if a possible second wave might come - in most EU states the peak of new daily cases may be reached only In the United States such a relative slowing might only happen in the second half of April – depending on the respective situation within each of the States and in the densely populated major urban centers.
It has been warned that there might be actors from within or outside our communal system, state, and country who might take advantage of the stressful situation for their own objectives – perhaps even to the detriment of liberal democracies and the rule of law. Ultimately, it is not what the virus does to us, but what we make out of it. We shall overcome this virus, sooner rather than later. The current suppression of personal and societal freedom will be over in a limited period of time. The better we all keep our physical and psychological condition, and get enough rest, the more we are able to deal with it in our own family and community – in person and/or virtual. Let us also beware of unwanted and unnecessary secondary effects and mitigate and counteract possible heightened tensions whenever possible and do everything to anticipate and avert possible aggression.