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Opinion
Noah Feldman

America Has No Plan for the Worst-Case Scenario on Covid-19

It’s possible that we'll never get a vaccine or a breakthrough treatment. What then?

Coffins lined up for transport in Bergamo, Italy.

Coffins lined up for transport in Bergamo, Italy.

Photographer: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images Europe

In the midst of the constant up-and-down of coronavirus news, both from science and the markets, it’s easy to lose sight of the scariest scenario of them all: the one where there’s no magic bullet. In this entirely plausible situation, there would be no effective Covid-19 vaccine or transformative therapy; the combination of testing and contact tracing wouldn’t successfully suppress the outbreak; and herd immunity would come, if at all, only after millions of deaths around the world.

Even raising this possibility is a big downer. But the fact that an outcome is terrible doesn’t make it impossible.