This commentary is by Marvin Malek, M.D., who also holds a master’s degree in public health and is an internist/hospitalist at Springfield (Vt.) Hospital.
This week brought two milestones in the Covid pandemic: The Covid death toll in the U.S. reached 688,000.
675,000 is the best estimate of the number of U.S. deaths that occurred in the great influenza pandemic of 1918-20. A century later, we have electron microscopes allowing us to see the virus. We have had 100 more years to organize a public health sector, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which until 2017 was universally regarded as the lead public health organization in the entire world.
We have DNA amplification technology and PCR that allowed us to delineate the virus’ entire genetic code within a month of the onset of the pandemic, and mRNA vaccine technology, which led to the development of highly effective and remarkably safe vaccines within a few months of the pandemic’s onset
But we broke through 675,000 deaths anyway.
And the bad news here in Vermont is that, for the last week, we’ve been setting daily records of new cases and hospitalizations — disturbingly now among a younger group than the deaths that occurred earlier in the pandemic.