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A 3-Step Plan to Save Lives

Surgical gloves and mask and home-based blood test kit.

As John Norris explains, we urgently need three tools to defeat Covid-19.

When we tell the story of this time, let no one say that we gave nothing less than our best to save American lives.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES, March 27, 2020 /EINPresswire.com/ -- American ingenuity and determination are the key ingredients needed to win the battle against the coronavirus. With the greatest scientific minds in our midst, and the political will to execute on an ambitious plan, there is no reason we cannot defeat the virus in a matter of months.

The plan that I have devised requires the manufacture and distribution of three products and the commitment by a majority of Americans to their consistent use. With the support of the U.S. President and all 50 governors, this plan could easily help to save at least 50,000 American lives.

Not insignificantly, it could also help restore our economy.

American lives – young or old, disabled or immunocompromised, or the picture of health – are not expendable. They are not to be accepted as “collateral damage.” When we tell the story of this time, let no one say that we gave nothing less than our very best to save American lives.

I have spent my professional life in the service of public health, having previously served as the Principal Deputy Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and as a health policies and management faculty member at Harvard. I now serve as Executive Chairman of FDTH Regulatory Affairs Strategies, which provides healthcare strategic advisory services worldwide.

The coronavirus is a global public health challenge unlike any we have faced in decades. Like most unfathomably difficult projects, it must be broken down into smaller, manageable steps.

The recommendations described below would be in addition to the current precautions we are already taking:
• Regular, thorough hand-washing
• Disinfection of frequently used surfaces
• In-home quarantine or, if needed, hospitalization of the infected

I also recommend the deployment of three additional tools.

1. SURGICAL GRADE BUT LESS COMPLEX GLOVES
If even half of all Americans wore highly protective gloves whenever outside their home, the “touching-transfer” of the disease, both direct and indirect, would be cut significantly.

Produced in the tens of millions, the cost of these gloves would dramatically be reduced. Each household would need one pair per person, per month. Let’s start with three months but be prepared to extend it another three months.

2. SURGICAL-GRADE BUT LESS COMPLEX TWO-WAY MASKS
If half of all Americans also wore surgical-grade masks whenever outside their home, sneezing and coughing transfer, both direct and indirect, would be reduced.

Produced in the tens of millions, the cost of these masks would dramatically be reduced. Each household would need four masks per person per month, changing masks weekly. Assuming each person’s workplace is kept virus-free, the masks would only have to be worn when they are outside work or home.

3. IN-HOME, HIGH-SPEED CORONAVIRUS TESTS
The lack of testing capacity has been identified as our primary weakness in this battle, because we don't know who has it, but is either not sick yet or is just an asymptomatic carrier. The availability of an in-home, high-speed (from start to finish) test would be revolutionary.

It is safe to assume that the greatest scientific minds in our country are already working on bringing such a test to market. They will, of course, require expedited funding and government approval, but more than any other tool in our tool bag, a widely available, high-speed test would prevent the unwitting spread to others.

Initially, these tests should be monitored, via the Internet, by a healthcare professional. Once they are observed to be roughly as safe and effective as an in-home blood sugar tests used by diabetics, the tests could be fully self-administered, saving the healthcare delivery system billions.

SINE QUA NON
The plan I have outlined would require the consistent, committed use by every household who volunteers to take part. They would be asked to commit to themselves and their housemates to wearing the gloves and mask every time they leave their homes.

And, every time they return they would be asked to hang up their mask and gloves and test themselves, as well as others seeking entry to their home.

LOGISTICS
The number of households likely to be involved here is around 64 million of the 128 million households in America. Each of these typically house three residents. In other words, a total of 192 million Americans, or roughly 60% of our 330 million-person population.

For distribution, the U.S. Postal Service has the capacity to distribute 30-million packages per day. It will take only nine days to distribute all three items.

As soon as the initial steps are started, the more successful this plan will be. It is estimated that the lives of some 50,000 Americans (and perhaps another 100,000 worldwide) might be saved, if the products and the device are distributed by June 30th, a possible but difficult target date to meet.

COSTS
Those who say such a campaign would be prohibitively expensive should consider what the pandemic has already cost. We are already facing trillions of dollars in losses, and we have barely left the starting blocks. After calculating the likely full cost of not winning the war, soon, the real cost of doing less than we can do to win this war quickly is obscene.

The President is looking for a “Big” strategy to win this war. Hopefully, he will embrace this well-thought-through “three-legged strategic action plan” because it is likely to produce enormous benefits if it is fully employed as soon as possible.

Take a hard look, Mr. President. You, too, Governors of our 50 states. We will support you. We will have your backs. This aggressive plan might make all the difference. Nearly everyone, expert or not, agrees we need massive testing, now. This is a smart and inexpensive way to do it.
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The Hon. John Norris is an FDA Former Principal Deputy Commissioner, a Harvard Former Health Policy and Management Faculty Member, and Chairman of FDTH Regulatory Affairs Strategies, as well as an inventor-entrepreneur and frequent drug, device, Healthcare-IT, clinical lab, and hospital-system visionary, innovator, advisor, and board member. He can be reached at john.norris.jd.mba@fdthregulatoryaffairsstrategies.com.

John Norris
FDTH Regulatory Affairs Strategies
+1 617-680-3127
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