For the next couple of months or longer, Texas and the world will fight a 21st century pandemic with mostly 14th century methods.
That’s the stark message of Dr. Peter Hotez, a Hagler Institute scholar at Texas A&M University and a professor, vaccine researcher and dean at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
It likely will be several months before effective medical treatments against COVID-19 are widely available, Dr. Hotez said. Hopes that a vaccine will be available in 18 months or less are probably too optimistic, he added.
That leaves careful individual hygiene, social distancing and shutting down non-essential gatherings as the primary strategies to fight the surging number of illnesses in the immediate future.
“We know it is a huge hit on the economy,” Dr. Hotez said, “but if we can prevent individuals from coming into hospitals and overwhelming the hospitals, that can make a big difference in the number who die.”
Dr. Hotez goes in-depth about COVID-19 in an exclusive 30-minute video interview hosted by John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System.
The interview will air 7 p.m. Thursday, April 9, on KAMU-TV in College Station and on other Texas public television affiliates. (Check your local listings.) It will also be available beginning Thursday evening on the Texas A&M University System’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/tamusystem.
During the interview, Dr. Hotez explains why the novel coronavirus behind COVID-19 poses so many more challenges than the viruses that were behind previous pandemics.
He has encouraging words about Texas’ hospital capacity, but his predictions, based on recent mathematical models, are grim when it comes to illnesses and deaths.
“As bad as things are, I’m sorry to say things are still on the rise,” Dr. Hotez said.
He also laments the lack of commitment historically to invest in preparation for pandemics.
“A lot of our failures are public policy failures,” Dr. Hotez said. “We knew coronaviruses were a problem.”
This is the first in a series of television shows hosted by Chancellor Sharp to educate Texans on the implications of COVID-19. He will be interviewing scientists, researchers and other leading experts from the Texas A&M System who are helping Texas and the nation respond to the pandemic.