Mar 12 2020

Covid-19: Senator Bill Frist, M.D. Second Opinion Podcast

In the midst of a crisis like the Covid-19 one that is unfolding around the world, it’s very hard to separate the signal from the noise. In the US, we are now in the thick of the aggressive expansion of infection from the virus, and we can look to a number of other countries for what they’ve done, how things have played out, and what has been effective.

While it’s easy to find experts everywhere, and Twitter allows even those most unexpert authority figure to be an expert, I’m continuously searching for signal and trying to discard or ignore the noise.

Senator Bill Frist, M.D. has a podcast called A Second Opinion. I’ve been listening to it the past few days and his guest today is the CDC’s Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat. It’s short (20 minutes), calm, and clear.

Anne Schuchat, MD, is the Principal Deputy Director of CDC. She has been CDC’s principal deputy director since September 2015. She served as acting CDC director from January-July 2017 and February-March 2018. Dr. Schuchat also served as director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases from 2006-2015 and Chief of the Respiratory Diseases Branch from 1998-2005. She joined CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer in 1988. Dr. Schuchat played key roles in CDC emergency responses including the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza response, the 2003 SARS outbreak in Beijing, and the 2001 bioterrorist anthrax response. Globally, she has worked on meningitis, pneumonia and Ebola vaccine trials in West Africa, and conducted surveillance and prevention projects in South Africa.

Dr. Schuchat has serious medical credibility, so it’s worth hearing her, in basically real-time, talk about what is unfolding daily.

In the past few days, I’ve locked in on the idea of social distancing to flatten the curve. Following is a transcription of the very end of the podcast that reinforces this.

This virus is new, we are learning every day, but what we’ve learned so far is that for most people it’s going to be a mild illness if even that. But for the elderly with underlying conditions or people with severe medical conditions and the facilities and organizations who care for them, this can be devastating. And, so, we all can play a role in protecting the vulnerable people in our lives. Our parents and grandparents, our loved ones and neighbors. Help out in the community for those who are greatest risks… Don’t go out to large gatherings. Reconsider those visits to assisted living homes. Find other ways to communicate.

Remember that we are on an exponential curve right now so your action today can have an amplified action in the next few weeks.