Dr. Tom Frieden during CNN’s “Corona Virus: Facts and Fears” downhall show on Saturday based on the number of “already” infections.
“Whenever we ignore, underestimate or underestimate this virus, we do so at our own risk and the lives of the people who depend on us,” Frieden said.
However, predictions are not set in stone, and what the public is doing will have a big impact, said Dr. Richard Pesser, another former CDC director.
Following guidelines such as wearing masks, social exclusion, hand washing and investigating cases “can be a very different path for us and we can bring this under control,” he said.
The vulnerabilities are far greater than the authorities think
Authorities are monitoring corona virus infections and deaths, but that number could be much lower, Freiden said.
The actual number of corona virus deaths in the United States is more than a quarter of a million, Frieden said Saturday.
Part of the problem in determining the true impact is how deaths are listed in death certificates, especially in elderly patients who are more likely to have other health problems with corona virus infection. Often other health conditions are listed as the cause of death, he said.
“If you die of cancer, if you have diabetes, you still die of cancer,” Frieden explained. “If you died from the temple, if you also had diabetes, you would have died from the temple.”
He said the number of infections would be close to 40 million people.
“You may not get sick from this, but you can spread it to someone who is dead, or to someone else who is dying,” he said. “That’s why we all need to recognize that we’re all together. There is only one enemy, and that is the virus.”
Gaining confidence in vaccines and health agents
As researchers race to develop a corona virus vaccine, health experts said Saturday it is important to improve trust and access around any possible vaccine.
“For a vaccine to really work, it must be safe and effective, but accessible and reliable, which is why it is so important that it is not politicized and viewed from any political party or political figure,” Frieden said. “Getting vaccinated out is a big job.”
Polls show that the public does not trust the CDC with information surrounding the corona virus.
The way to regain trust is “primary, even if it’s hard to tell the truth,” Dr. Julie Gerberting said during town hall.
“Americans can tolerate very difficult facts, but it must come from reliable and trustworthy sources,” Gerberting said. “One of the reasons we’re so concerned about Americans is that they ask different things from different political leaders. We do not reinforce the news from credible sources.
He reiterated what other former CDC leaders at Town Hall had said: Transparency is important.
“It will be very difficult to crawl back into a situation where people believe we really have the best concern in their heart. The good news is that science is on our side,” he said.
Awareness call for politicians and public health officials
Former CDC directors warned that both politicians and public health officials should take the virus seriously for the public good.
President Donald Trump said fears about the corona virus should not allow Americans to dominate their lives, but former director Dr Jeffrey Coplan said the country should be “completely” afraid.
“When your leadership acts against you on this virus, the virus has an ally, which becomes a very strong competitor for further destruction,” Coblan said.
Koblan said he hopes the epidemic will be a wake-up call for politicians and public health officials.
“I am very confident that we will see strong state and local health departments working with a strong CDC – especially with an updated monitoring system, with a greater focus on early detection of problems and approaches to improve them later,” he said.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Andrea Kane, Liana Polk, Shelby Lynn Erdman, Nicole Chavez and Christina McSuris contributed to the report.