Summary: The Director-General of WHO gives us some rare good news from the front lines of the COVID-19 epidemic. It contradicts the bold guesses of internet amateur experts. The press might ignore it, preferring to focus instead on the minutea. This does not mean that the epidemic has ended, but it points to the possibility of success.
A status report from the Director-General of WHO
Excerpt from the media briefing on March 3 by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. There is important good news here, amidst the warnings about the need for strong fast action. Red emphasis added.
“We understand that people are afraid and uncertain. Fear is a natural human response to any threat, especially when it’s a threat we don’t completely understand. But as we get more data, we are understanding this virus, and the disease it causes, more and more. This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics.
“Both COVID-19 and influenza cause respiratory disease and spread the same way, via small droplets of fluid from the nose and mouth of someone who is sick. However, there are some important differences between COVID-19 and influenza.
“First, COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza, from the data we have so far. With influenza, people who are infected but not yet sick are major drivers of transmission, which does not appear to be the case for COVID-19. Evidence from China is that only 1% of reported cases do not have symptoms, and most of those cases develop symptoms within 2 days
“The second major difference is that COVID-19 causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza. …
“Third, we have vaccines and therapeutics for seasonal flu, but at the moment there is no vaccine and no specific treatment for COVID-19. However, clinical trials of therapeutics are now being done, and more than 20 vaccines are in development.
“And fourth, we don’t even talk about containment for seasonal flu – it’s just not possible. But it is possible for COVID-19. We don’t do contact tracing for seasonal flu – but countries should do it for COVID-19, because it will prevent infections and save lives. Containment is possible.
“To summarize, COVID-19 spreads less efficiently than flu, transmission does not appear to be driven by people who are not sick, it causes more severe illness than flu, there are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics, and it can be contained – which is why we must do everything we can to contain it. That’s why WHO recommends a comprehensive approach.
“These differences mean we can’t treat COVID-19 exactly the same way we treat flu. But there are enough similarities to mean that countries are not starting from scratch. For decades, many countries have invested in building up their systems to detect and respond to influenza. Because COVID-19 is also a respiratory pathogen, those systems can, should and are being adapted for COVID-19.”
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To repeat what I said yesterday about America
The US took strong early steps, but current efforts are falling apart due to decentralized political structure (many agencies with overlapping mandates at Federal, State, and local levels) and partisan feuding. For example, see the bickering about who should pay for testing. That somebody should not test due to the cost is mad. It is a cost of business for the nation, and should be paid for accordingly.
Trump should stop tweeting and take strong action immediately. The clock is running; time is not on our side.
It’s easy to follow the coronavirus story
The World Health Organization provides daily information, from highly technical information to news for the general public.
- There is their daily situation report, with detailed numbers.
- The Director-General of WHO gives frequent briefings, which are quite insightful.
- Their daily press briefings have more information. An audio goes up quickly afterwards. A transcript is posted the next day.
Posts about the coronavirus epidemic.
- The 2019-nCoV virus shows that we’ve built a better world.
- Hidden news about the epidemic sweeping across America! – How fake news drives out good news.
- Amazing but hidden news about coronavirus – Update about the epidemic, and why so few know the good news.
- Lessons from the coronavirus about climate change.
- Cut thru myths to see facts about COVID-19.
- Blockbuster news from China about COVID-19.
- China shows us a future of the epidemic and the world.
- A devastating epidemic spreads across America.
- COVID-19 goes global. What works against it?
- Soon we’ll see if the US can defend itself again COVID-19.
- A situation report on the hidden news about COVID-19.
- The COVID-19 story: mistakes were made.
- Important: Some good news about COVID-19.
For More Information
Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see an inspiring story about the young women who flew biplanes in WWI and lived in a barn: Ballad of the Unknown Pilot.
- See the ugly cost of the next big flu pandemic. We can do more to prepare.
- Stratfor: The superbugs are coming. We have time to prepare.
- Posts debunking the hysteria about the 2009 swine flu in America.
- Posts debunking the hysteria about the 2015 ebola epidemic in America.
- Important: A vaccine against the fears that make us weak.
Books about epidemics
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston (1994). A terrifying true story of an Ebola epidemic.
Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah (2016).