I write this post not as an expert on epidemiology. I have no such experience in that area. But there is much misinformation floating around on social media, and I want to pass on what I have learned over the past few months, from the best sources that I have, which are those who have the most expertise. I strongly believe that a well informed public leads to the best preparations, which in turn reduces both the severity of impacts and the amount of panic. I also especially want to thank DoctorOfSpace
, who does have knowledge and experience working with infectious diseases, and has shared wonderful information and insights with me and others on Discord.This virus is not an existential threat. However, the situation is extremely serious.
It is at least an order of magnitude more severe than a typical flu season. It is particularly dangerous because of the combination of it being highly infectious with a higher mortality rate than the typical flu, and there being no existing immunity or vaccine. This is also qualitatively different from prior outbreaks like Ebola or MERS, which had higher mortality rates but did not reach global proportions. It is potentially more similar to the 1918 influenza ("Spanish Flu"
). Our response must be viewed as like a long war.
It is projected to infect 40-70% of the world's adult population. It has the potential to result in millions of deaths worldwide, especially in age groups over 50. We can expect significant impacts on businesses and economies. None of these predictions warrants a widespread panic. Previous pandemics did not end civilization, and neither will this one. Most people who are infected will have mild symptoms and recover without problems.
There is a lot that we as individuals can do to help the situation. The severity of the impacts depend on how well we prepare and act. It is not realistic that the virus will be contained -- it is already spreading rapidly and in too many areas. But we can help to slow the spread. That means fewer will be infected at once, hence the health care system will be less inundated, and those who need care the most will have better access to it. I strongly feel that it is our duty to our communities to do our best in this effort.Individual actions are as important as government actions.
If you live in an area where the virus is known to be spreading, strongly consider avoiding large social gatherings. Practice social distancing, especially to protect the elderly. Wash your hands well and often. Try to avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. If you get sick, stay at home, get plenty of rest, and isolate yourself until at least a day after you are clear of symptoms.
Stay up to date with the news and follow instructions from your local governments and the CDC
. And above all, take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.
My best regards to all.An excellent, frequently updated map of reported cases and recoveries worldwide.More detailed data and graphics from worldometer.