It’s a Huge Job”: The Only Way to Contain the Coronavirus Is by Contact Tracing

Tom Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control, has a strategy—“box it in”—to stop the virus’s spread and get back to work. It’s going to take a massive army of tracers.

In this interview with Vanity Fair, Dr. Frieden reviews the challenges of getting a contact tracing program going for New York. He also reminds everyone of how all the public tools need to be brought to bear on this pandemic.

Other than a vaccine, there is no one weapon against this pandemic that will work. Not travel bans. Not staying at home. Not testing. Not remdesivir. All of those can help, but there’s no single weapon that will deliver the knock-out punch. We need an all-out assault on it, with three goals: to minimize infections, deaths, and social and economic disruption. I do think that we can limit the health and economic damage with smart interventions and scale up of public health interventions. The countries, states, and communities that have let public health guide them and that have supported public health have had the best outcomes.

Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and now CEO of health initiative Resolve to Save Lives