Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Laurie Garrett has emerged as one of the most informed, rational voices giving information about the coronavirus pandemic.
Garrett, who predicted such a global outbreak in her best-selling book "The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance," appeared on the shows of CNN's Anderson Cooper and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell Tuesday night, giving a dose of reality to delusions about rapid development of a Covid-19 vaccine. The Council on Foreign Relations member gave a similar fact-based analysis to The New York Times' Frank Bruni in his Sunday column.
In Bruni's column, Garrett, who won the Pulitzer at Newsday for her reporting on the AIDS outbreak, pointed out how the pandemic has exposed the decline of the Centers for Disease Control under the Trump administration. Like other public health experts, Garrett decried the CDC's inadequate response to the outbreak.
Under Garrett's "best-case scenario," a vaccine could be developed in 36 months and halt the disease globally. But this would require any company that develops the vaccine to forgo profits and share the drug with other manufacturers. Another factor would be whether the vaccine could be given orally or by skin patch, eliminating the need for large quantities of syringes to be produced.
If a vaccine is developed, Garrett believes it should be desseminated throughout the world, even to remote places such as the Himalayas. She also calls for offering the drug to militant groups and countries like Iran. The Trump administration's scorn for international cooperation would prevent such sharing.
Garrett has also called for targeted testing, rather than the diffuse operations taking place throughout the country. She points out that someone who tests negative one day can still be infected the next. Rather than constant widespread retesting, Garrett says that testing of a select group can determine the extent of infections in a larger population, giving necessary information for the reopening of businesses and schools.
With the onslaught of conflicting information about the pandemic, Garrett's clear, rational reporting stands out. Beyond Bruni's column, The New York Times would provide a valuable public service by giving her a frequent forum on its op-ed page.