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Balancing Risks in the Time of COVID-19

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

The worldwide coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted people’s lives and livelihoods on the micro level and entire countries and economies on the macro level. Tens of millions of people have been infected, and hundreds of thousands have died. Sadly, as of early September in the United States, it is getting worse, not better.

For all of the disruption, however, the path forward is illumined by science. Science identified and rapidly sequenced the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. Science identified its mode of transmission and informed public health measures that, if widely embraced, promise to limit its spread. Science has shown that a new antiviral drug and an old corticosteroid can improve outcomes among severely ill adults. Science holds the promise of developing a vaccine that ultimately may end the pandemic; and yet, in 2017, more than 4 of 5 persons in the United States could not name a living scientist.1 (Of the 19% who could name one, 2% said Anthony Fauci—a percentage that is sure to be higher now!) The scientific method of making observations, testing hypotheses, generating data, and generating new understanding often becomes foreign to us when we leave our school science classes. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the rapid pace with which recommendations have been made and subsequently changed in recent months often leaves us all tired, confused, and frustrated.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: David W. Kimberlin, MD, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1600 17th Ave S, Children’s Harbor Building, Ste 303, Birmingham, AL 35233 (dkimberlin@peds.uab.edu).

Published Online: October 12, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.4304

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Kimberlin reported being an ex officio member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases and a member of the writing group for American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal COVID guidance. Dr Puopolo reported being a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn and a member of the writing group for American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal COVID guidance. No other disclosures were reported.

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