Viewpoint: The US is more vulnerable to COVID-19 now than ever

As it stands, the nation's healthcare infrastructure is not equipped to withstand routine bouts of COVID-19 surges, Megan Ranney, MD, wrote in a March 28 opinion piece published in The Washington Post.

"After five surges, and with vaccines and treatments widely available, it's human nature to want to believe the job is done," writes Dr. Ranney, an emergency medicine physician and academic dean at Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, R.I. "In reality, our healthcare system is in no better shape today than it was two years ago — and, in fact, it might be in worse condition." 

She points to burnt out healthcare workers exiting the field; a rise in violence against healthcare workers; sicker patients; and stalled federal funding for COVID-19 response measures as reasons why. 

Homing in on insufficient COVID-19 response funds — which have already led to the U.S. cutting back on antibody shipments and free vaccinations and tests for uninsured Americans — Dr. Ranney said, "We will not have adequate supplies of treatments or vaccines, nor any surge capacity, if and when the next variant hits." 

Without significant investment in the nation's healthcare infrastructure, she warns these current issues will only worsen in the face of more surges.

"Our healthcare infrastructure should be a concern of national security. We need supply chains that work; staffing that is adequate not just during times of calm but also during moments of crisis; data systems that allow us to identify the surges before they overwhelm us; and a public health environment that not just preserves beds for emergencies but also allows us to prevent and treat disease and injury before they become a disaster," Dr. Ranney said. 

To read the full piece, click here.


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