Physician turned U.S. Republican Senate candidate Manny Sethi announced Wednesday what he called a plan to address the coronavirus.
Sethi is running to replace Tennessee’s retiring U.S. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.
In a press release, Sethi called the outbreak a “massive international crisis” that needs “something as bold and ambitious as a Manhattan Project-style effort to combat it.”
Sethi also said Americans “must stop listening to the Wall Street elites, who are more worried about not spooking the markets and their pocketbooks than they are about protecting Americans.”
The Tennessee Star asked Sethi about that on Wednesday.
“China has created a potential crisis the world over, and they’ve been lying about it for months. We know there is some kind of a crisis of some kind here, otherwise President Trump wouldn’t have called for Emergency Funding. So, something is going on, and he’s to be applauded for his leadership. The question then becomes, what is the proper response?” Sethi told The Star in an email.
“There are two wrong ways to talk about this: the first is to panic and act like the world is coming to an end, and the other is to try to pretend there is nothing happening. coronavirus is a serious medical issue, and I believe that with the proper attention we can get a handle on it. But, like any epidemic, we should be prepared to keep Americans safe, and we need a clear plan.”
Many people have compared the coronavirus to the flu, Sethi said.
“Let’s think about the math on that. The flu has a 0.1 percent death rate. Sixteen thousand people have died of the flu so far this season, according to the CDC. While estimates vary, the coronavirus has an approximately 2 percent mortality rate. If the coronavirus became as widespread as the flu in the United States, that would mean 320,000 people (about the population of Rutherford County) die,” Sethi said.
“As a doctor, that’s not OK with me. Every single human life is valuable, and we need to thoughtfully plan to prevent any loss of life from the coronavirus. In trauma surgery, our motto is failing to plan is planning to fail. I want our country to have a plan so we can keep Americans safe.”
According to a press release, Sethi’s plan includes the following eight points:
• No forced resettlement. Protect states from forced resettlement of coronavirus patients by the federal government. Local and state officials must approved any quarantine of coronavirus patients in any state. Sethi said the federal government must coordinate with the community surrounding a quarantine site.
• Emergency funding to get thousands of researchers working on testing of an accurate PCR-based screening test for rapid diagnosis. The current diagnostic test has been validated at only a handful of public health laboratories, and its accuracy is problematic at best, Sethi said. He went on to say that an accurate diagnostic test, available to state and local public health labs, is imperative, as well as coordination between all hospitals and the closest public health lab.
• Ensure coordination between the Center for Disease Control and state and local health facilities to assure a clear and transparent reporting system that can provide a timely basis for quarantine decisions.
• Emergency funding to bolster and hasten the development and testing of an effective and safe vaccine.
• Increase surveillance and border security to ensure persons who are either potentially exposed and at risk of infection or potentially already infected are appropriately evaluated and triaged.
• National preparation within hospitals to create sufficient capacity in case the needs arises for hospital admission. Current estimates are that approximately 80 percent of COVID-19 patients have mild disease; of the approximately 20 percent with more severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization, approximately 5 percent require intensive care, Sethi said.
• International collaboration among clinicians knowledgeable on COVID-19 to determine the most effective treatments, including controlled clinical trials of anti-virals.
• Development of an accurate antibody test to assist in the assessment of vaccine immunogenicity as well as to provide essential seroepidemiologic data including the role of asymptomatic cases in transmission of the virus.
“I’m not sure what the exact time frame is (that we need to enact this plan), but I know we are behind the eight ball because of the dishonesty of the Chinese,” Sethi told The Star.
“Nobody knows how the next stage of this is going to unfold, but the more we can do on the front end, the better. That’s my point.”
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