The world is talking about it and we’re addressing your most pressing questions on the CORONAVIRUS.
Listen here now. The segment at :31
Bill Buckmaster Show
“Your Health” Segment
March 3, 2020
COVID-19 – The Coronavirus Pandemic
The flu kills more people every year, why should I be concerned about the coronavirus?
That may change depending on the size of the outbreak. Currently, the flu has a mortality rate of around 0.1%, but because it infects millions of people every year, hundreds of thousands of people die. Chinese scientists who diagnosed nearly 45,000 confirmed cases in the current COVID-19 outbreak estimated the death rate to be around 2.3% which would mean hundreds of thousands more deaths if the virus spreads to flu-like numbers. However, the initial estimates may not include a high amount of undiagnosed cases and the true fatality rate may be lower. That said, even a dramatic dip in the death rate compared to the flu would be catastrophic if it reached a similar scale.
What do we know that is different with COVID-19?
What is different is how little we know about COVID-19 AND how much we don’t know. However, we are learning more information every day.
Are we in a Pandemic?
Yes, by most definitions.
What causes a Pandemic?
Pandemics occur when a new pathogen (usually viruses, but they could be bacteria) rapidly spreads around the world because few if any people have immunity and because it spreads rapidly, often before it has caused any symptoms.
Where did it originate?
We are not sure but suspect it came when someone came in contact with an infected animal.
Covid-19 is a new strain of a virus never seen by humans before and therefore no one is immune. We are just learning how rapidly it can spread.
What about COVID-19 is concerning?
(Note: Most of our data are from China and it may be flawed)
- We do know that healthy adults and the elderly are dying – at least 1% maybe 2%
- For comparison: Seasonal flu kills about 0.2 - 0.6 percent who have the flu
- 1918 Pandemic killed 2% - Infected 1/3 of people - 20-50 million died (~675,000 Americans)
- Covid-19 has infected 10x more than SARS in far less time
- We know it is easily transmitted
- Each infected person, even before they have symptoms, transmits it to 2-3 others (very rapid)
Will it disappear in the spring as some have said?
There is no reason to expect that it will. It is already infecting people in the southern hemisphere (Australia, South America) where it is not winter
Are children less likely to become infected?
Too soon to be sure
Can I wear a mask and be protected?
No. Wearing a mask prevents a person from spreading it to others. A mask can’t prevent spread that occurs when you touch a handrail or open a doorknob and then touch your face.
Why aren’t more people being tested?
Like the virus, the CDC test for COVID-19 is also new has not been fully tested for accuracy and may be unreliable. Only when proven to be accurate will it be mass-produced and disseminated to doctors and hospitals.
When will we have a drug treatment?
Too soon to know. But, remember drug development takes a decade for new drugs and several years for established drugs that might be effective, for example something like Tamiflu, if it were to be effective and it isn’t likely. After billions were invested into AIDS drug development, the first drugs were developed and approved in a couple of years but really effective drugs required more than 20 years.
When will we have a vaccine? At best 18 months, perhaps years if the virus continues to mutate.
What can I do?
- Don’t panic.
- Be prepared in case there are new national policies such as those in China, Korea, Italy, etc.
- Don’t travel unless essential
- Wash hands frequently
- Don’t shake hands or have unnecessary contact with others
- Stay away from anyone unwell
- If you develop symptoms of a flu contact your physician asap
- Don’t go to an emergency room unless you are really sick and can’t reach your doctor. If you don’t have a family physician to call, arrange to have one asap
- Prepare your home for possibly being quarantined. Stock up on water, canned foods and your prescriptions
- Be prepared for working at home if required and if possible
- Be prepared for the possibility of schools being closed
The CDC is responding to frequently asked questions on their website here.
Advice from CDC:
- Stay home when you are ill.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Additional resource: https://ready.gov