Science Will Drive Recovery—and Everyone Has a Role

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Science Will Drive Recovery—and Everyone Has a Role

Author(s)
Adam Schechter
Adam Schechter
(Chairman and CEO, LabCorp)

As we seek to reopen the country, the path forward will be forged by science.

To move ahead, we must rely on the expanding body of research on COVID-19. Proven measures such as diligent hygiene practices, social distancing, and wearing masks are slowing or preventing transmission, while scientists are making significant progress in understanding the virus, identifying treatments, and developing vaccines.

Evidence-based, scientific knowledge can help us continue to protect ourselves and return safely to work and life. Here are five factors that should guide our journey and our role in advancing health and science.

As we seek to reopen the country, the path forward will be forged by science.

  • Continued vigilance on preventive actions: Evidence demonstrates that preventive measures are working: Masks, physical distancing, and hygiene protocols save lives and limit transmission. These simple and effective methods are as important as ever and must be maintained until we have effective treatments and vaccines. 

  • Evidence-Based back-to-work plans: Safety is the top concern in back-to-work planning. While each workplace will have its own requirements, there are some evidence-based strategies that are widely applicable. 

    First, companies need to have a clear approach regarding who can and cannot return to the workplace. This can be aided by screening questionnaires, temperature checks, and appropriate testing. These methods, while helpful, are just a few aspects of a comprehensive strategy because some people who are infected are asymptomatic. Companies also need policies that allow people who are sick to stay home.

    Second, if a symptomatic employee—or one who has been exposed to a COVID-19-infected person—does come into contact with coworkers, companies need to think about how to track, trace, test, and care for those who may be affected.

    Third, companies must be vigilant about keeping the workplace clean and sanitized and make it possible for employees to maintain physical distance from one another. This is challenging for some companies, but it is critically important.

    Lastly, there may be differences in timing for workplaces to open based on reported positive cases and trends. This should be monitored closely over time. 

  • Focus on testing: Testing must be available to those who meet US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, and we continue to expand capacity to meet those needs. Understanding who has been infected and who they’ve come in contact with is critical to slowing the spread of the virus.

    Testing is also key in helping us understand disease trends. Innovative scientific collaborations are maximizing the use of testing data. LabCorp, for example, has partnered (with Ciox Health) on a patient registry to leverage data and technology to better understand COVID-19 diagnosis and treatments, and generate insights that will shape ongoing and future pandemic response.

  • Refocusing on routine or deferred health care: We need a renewed focus on health care overall. Many people have put off their routine health care, and even those with acute conditions may have delayed treatments. Health-care facilities of all kinds have implemented stringent safety protocols and expanded telemedicine options to limit transmission of the virus COVID-19.

  • Achieving scientific breakthroughs through research and clinical trials: The answers the world is seeking will come from the scientific community, and one positive outcome of the pandemic has been the way the community has come together to advance important discoveries. LabCorp is supporting our clients with COVID-19 clinical trials around the world and innovating around virtual, hybrid trials that don’t require patients to visit a research site as often as in the past.

    Individuals can also play a role in advancing science to end this pandemic by participating in trials or other programs that explore treatment options and support scientific breakthroughs. LabCorp is a coalition partner with The Fight Is In Us, which connects recovered COVID-19 patients with donor centers that collect plasma. The plasma is used to treat sick patients directly through transfusions and to make potential medicines.

The pace, breadth, and depth of scientific discovery has been breathtaking and continually evolving, with more insights coming every day. I am optimistic that we will prevail—but there is much more to do. As we reopen our economy, we must do so safely and stay focused on the science. We have to continue to be diligent until treatments and vaccines are widely available. It is the only path ahead, and everyone has a role to play.

Published July 8, 2020