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All the World Could Become the Plaything of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) By Brian Simpson

     Where would I be in my coverage of the coronavirus pandemic without the site, giving me the juiciest most paranoid news fir to print? Why, I would simply go through dozens of other sites, wasting much of my day.

     How about predictions that the coronavirus could infect up to 5 billion people. What! Not the entire human race?

“In yet another sign of the World Health Organization's about-face on the coronavirus outbreak, a top epidemiologist and advisor to the organization said Thursday that if the virus isn't contained soon, it could infect 60% of the global population - or more than 5 billion people - echoing projections made by a Hong Kong scientist who was once labeled an alarmist despite his pioneering work in the fight against SARS. According to Bloomberg, that's what WHO advisor Ira Longini said after finishing a study of the virus's transmissibility. His estimates suggest that the virus could one day infect billions of people, far more than the ~60,000 or so cases as of earlier on Thursday. If the virus truly has a mortality rate of 2% (around the low end of current estimates), at this rate, it would kill more than 100 million. Of course, if the virus manages to spread so widely, it will unequivocally prove that China's draconian quarantines weren't effective enough, and that the government effectively set itself up for failure when it hesitated to try and contain the outbreak after it first emerged in Wuhan late last year. In recent days, Dr. Tedros, the WHO's director-general, has warned that we might be seeing only "the tip of the iceberg" in terms of cases, and that a new rash of infections in Europe could lead to another widespread outbreak. Longini based his numbers on an r-sub-zero of between 2 and 3, meaning that the average infected person will spread the virus to two or three other people. In recent days, growing attention has been paid to the lack of reliable virus tests, not just in China, but in virtually all countries where the virus has spread. The difficulties in diagnosing the virus could mean we see another sudden surge of cases - but this time, it could be even larger than last night's dump from officials in Hubei. Even if we could find a way to reduce the virus's ability to spread by half, it would could still wind up infecting more than 2 billion people.

"Unless the transmissibility changes, surveillance and containment can only work so well," Longini, co-director of the Center for Statistics and Quantitative Infectious Diseases at the University of Florida, said in an interview at WHO headquarters in Geneva. “Isolating cases and quarantining contacts is not going to stop this virus." Longini, a researcher and scientist who has spent his entire career focusing on infectious diseases, is hardly the only scientist making dire warnings. Neil Ferguson, a researcher at Imperial College London, estimated that as many as 50,000 people may be infected each day in China, and more recently warned that we could still be in the "preliminary stages" of the outbreak.”

     Apart from the massive possible infection potential the virus could mutate to a deadlier form that attacks the heart causing sudden heart attacks:

“Doctors working on the front lines of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak have told the Taiwan Times that it's possible to become reinfected by the virus, leading to death from sudden heart failure in some cases.
"It’s highly possible to get infected a second time. A few people recovered from the first time by their own immune system, but the meds they use are damaging their heart tissue, and when they get it the second time, the antibody doesn’t help but makes it worse, and they die a sudden death from heart failure," reads a message forwarded to Taiwan News from a relative of one of the doctors living in the United Kingdom. The source also said the virus has “outsmarted all of us,” as it can hide symptoms for up to 24 days. This assertion has been made independently elsewhere, with Chinese pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan (???) saying the average incubation period is three days, but it can take as little as one day and up to 24 days to develop symptoms. Also, the source said that false negative tests for the virus are fairly common. “It can fool the test kit – there were cases that they found, the CT scan shows both lungs are fully infected but the test came back negative four times. The fifth test came back positive.” -Taiwan Times

     Even if the epidemic remains largely in China, and does not become a global pandemic, the economic effects on China, in a globalised, Asianised world will be immense, with for example demand for resources like steel, collapsing. Bad news for super-dependent Australia.

     It would be amusing if the US election had to be cancelled because people could not get to polling stations.

     Nature laughs last!



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Tuesday, 26 May 2020
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