More than 529,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic one year ago — with up to a projected 571,000 to die by early April — a number that Dr. Sanjay Gupta calls “numbing.”
“This should not feel normal,” Gupta told CNN’s John King. “… So many of these deaths were preventable.”
Gupta said that vaccines are not solely responsible for the downward trend in coronavirus cases.
“As wonderful as the vaccines are, what ends up bringing these things down, what has worked in the United States at various times — what has worked in so many places around the world — are basic public health measures. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons of all this. We want science to rescue us, understandably, but that shouldn’t mean we lean away from public health measures,” Gupta said.
He used the example of South Africa, which experienced a large surge in cases from a variant in the winter, but has since flattened the curve. Less than 1% of the country has been vaccinated so far, according to Gupta.
“That steep decline is not because of vaccines, that is another reminder, even with one of these concerning variants, that basic public health measures work. So we want the vaccine, we want science to rescue us, but South Africa should remind us of what is possible even without those vaccines,” he said.
Gupta is optimistic as the US moves ahead through the spring and summer, he said.
“Going into summer, we’ll have a lot of people vaccinated, and we’ll get to that herd immunity,” he said.