Coronavirus or COVID-19 is already reported to have killed more than 2,000 people worlwide. And it IS deadly. But not TOO deadly.
It makes you sick, but not in predictable, ways and is dangerous because it may sometimes cause no symptoms at all.
“I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable.”
Last month China began locking off bigger and bigger areas in the city of Wuhan, eventually encompassing 100 million people.
But nonetheless, the virus has now been found in 24 countries.
Lipsitch predicts that within the coming year, some 40 to 70% of people around the world will be infected with the virus.
…but clarifies emphatically that it doesn’t mean that all will have severe illnesses.
“It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic.”
About 14% of people with influenza have no symptoms.
According to The Atlantic;
Lipsitch is far from alone in his belief that this virus will continue to spread widely. The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth “endemic” coronavirus. With the other four, people are not known to develop long-lasting immunity. If this one follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, “cold and flu season” could become “cold and flu and COVID-19 season.”
At this point, it is not even known how many people are infected. As of Sunday, there have been 35 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization. But Lipsitch’s “very, very rough” estimate when we spoke a week ago (banking on “multiple assumptions piled on top of each other,” he said) was that 100 or 200 people in the U.S. were infected. That’s all it would take to seed the disease widely. The rate of spread would depend on how contagious the disease is in milder cases. On Friday, Chinese scientists reported in the medical journal JAMA an apparent case of asymptomatic spread of the virus, from a patient with a normal chest CT scan. The researchers concluded with stolid understatement that if this finding is not a bizarre abnormality, “the prevention of COVID-19 infection would prove challenging.”
Even if Lipsitch’s estimates were off by orders of magnitude, they wouldn’t likely change the overall prognosis.
“Two hundred cases of a flu-like illness during flu season—when you’re not testing for it—is very hard to detect. But it would be really good to know sooner rather than later whether that’s correct, or whether we’ve miscalculated something. The only way to do that is by testing.”
We need a vaccine, right?
Over the past month, stock prices of a small pharmaceutical company named Inovio have more than doubled but it’s not the only small biotech company trying to create a vaccine. Others include Moderna, CureVac, and Novavax.
Anthony Fauci, the head of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wrote in JAMA in January that the agency was working at historic speed to find a vaccine.
But overall, even if all pieces fell into place, it expected that it would take 12-18 months before an initial product could be considered safe and effective.
Jason Schwartz, an assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health who studies vaccine policy, told The Atalantic,
“If we’re putting all our hopes in a vaccine as being the answer, we’re in trouble.”
Schwartz a vaccine development will happen too late to make a difference for the current outbreak.
Preparedness for this outbreak should have been happening for the past decade, ever since SARS but Schwartz says,
“Had we not set the SARS-vaccine-research program aside, we would have had a lot more of this foundational work that we could apply to this new, closely related virus. Some very early research ended up sitting on a shelf because that outbreak ended before a vaccine needed to be aggressively developed.”
On Saturday, Politico reported that the White House is preparing to ask Congress for $1 billion in emergency funding for a coronavirus response. This would come in the same month in which Trump released a new budget proposal. It CUTS pandemic preparedness—funding for the CDC, the NIH, and foreign aid.
But don’t worry, Trump wouldn’t politicize a worldwide pandemic…
The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2020
For a (scary) look at what the virus does to the body, go here…
(Photo, screen grab; via The Atlantic)