A medical worker uses a swab to take a sample at a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Washington D.C., the United States, on May 14, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)
A lack of sufficient testing for the presence of COVID-19 in the general public might be one of the major reasons for the large number of deaths in the United States, a leading medical expert has said.
The United States has suffered the most from the pandemic around the world, with over 1.84 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and a death toll of more than 107,000 as of Wednesday.
"Without greater monitoring and testing, it is difficult to properly control the spread of the novel coronavirus infection. Simply testing individuals with suspected infection and first responder health care personnel is inadequate to provide the protection and means to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Kent Pinkerton, professor of pediatrics from the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"This is particularly troublesome with some active carriers and shedders of COVID-19 who are completely asymptomatic," he added.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least a third of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic. About 40 percent of transmission occurred prior to symptom onset.
Pinkerton said although measures taken for stay-in-shelter mandates around the country have helped to flatten the curve of infection, many areas continue to see no reduction in the incidence of infection.
To lighten these mandates without the proper use of personal protective equipment could be associated with a future resurgence of COVID-19 in the United States, he noted.
According to Pinkerton, the major challenges ahead in controlling the spread of the pandemic are patience on the part of the U.S. public and the development of an efficacious vaccine for protection against COVID-19.
Experts are worried that the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died last week while in police custody, may result in new outbreaks.
"Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward," said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
Coronavirus testing sites in many locations have been closed due to unrest.
Since most people who are infected with the coronavirus develop symptoms within 14 days of being infected and can spread the disease days before they feel sick, the window to get tested and avoid infecting others is small.
"The impact of the ongoing protests on COVID-19 case counts may be revealed in about two weeks," Zhang Zuofeng, professor of epidemiology and associate dean for research with the school of public health at University of California, Los Angeles, told Xinhua