Viewpoint: We can reopen the economy, but won’t get ‘back to normal’ without a coronavirus vaccine

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During his time at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., investigated infectious disease outbreaks. Mostashari also spent a chunk of his career creating policy in Washington, D.C., including as the National Coordinator for Health IT.

Combined, the background in epidemiology and policy has afforded him a unique viewpoint into the current COVID-19 pandemic.

He was one of five healthcare experts, including former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb, who penned a proposed plan to build a national COVID-19 surveillance system. In that recently published paper, issued by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Mostashari, Gottlieb and other leaders argued that a system to effectively track and trace COVID-19 is a prerequisite for gradually reopening the economy.

Related article:  COVID-19 vaccines unlikely to be 'cure-alls'. That might not be such a bad thing

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FH: When do you think things will get back to normal?

FM: We won’t get to back to normal until there is widespread inoculation with a vaccine. We can have a phased approach to gradually loosening the restrictions as we ramp up surveillance and contact tracing. If the numbers start to go up again, then we will have to respond. It’s not a light switch that you turn on or off, it’s more like a dimmer switch or a dial that you adjust.

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