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Watsisname
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

09 Mar 2020 00:46

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 is 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 has much 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 depends 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.
 
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Watsisname
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

09 Mar 2020 02:20

3b1b with an excellent video on understanding exponential growth (and better yet, the logistic curve), in the context of COVID-19.

 
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midtskogen
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

09 Mar 2020 04:01

The mortality rate seems somewhat uncertain.  I've seen figures around 2%, but it may be far lower.  Currently, 169 in Norway have been infected and all, except one person with a pre-condition who has been hospitalised, have experienced mild symptoms.  This might partly be because the vast majority can trace the infection to holidays in north Italy and most are relatively young and healthy.  But also that there has been extensive testing in Norway even if symptoms are like a mild cold, whereas in other countries maybe testing has been more restricted to people with more sever symptoms.  So the number of infected worldwide may be greatly underestimated, and the mortality has been overestimated.

It's a difficult call for authorities to decide how drastic measures should be.  If they do little, and this goes really pandemic even if it was inevitable, criticism will be heavy.  If they overreact, the cure may be worse than the disease, but if the virus silently dies off, we can't know what would have happened if drastic measures were not taken and it can be argued that the non-disaster proves that the drastic measures were necessary.  So there is an incentive for authorities to take fairly drastic action, and there is a risk that it will backfire because the public might not take it seriously, even the actions that are sensible.  Common sense would be most effective but is difficult to enforce.  Common sense could even lead to a net gain if the coronavirus gets constrained and the spread of seasonal flu and colds drops as a side effect.
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DoctorOfSpace
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

09 Mar 2020 17:02

Trying to balance between fearmongering and being informative is very difficult.

We have people who receive the right data claiming that is going to cause a panic, and then we have people like Trump downplaying the issue.

This virus is as close to a pandemic as it gets, it has hit all the markers and is endemic in numerous countries, and yet to satiate the Chinese Government and quell panic they refer to it as just an infection. 

Explaining just figures in Discord generally gets a fearmongering response, and that alone should be concerning for people.
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midtskogen
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

11 Mar 2020 11:41

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Watsisname
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

11 Mar 2020 14:21

Wow. Thank you, midtskogen. I hope many more people read that.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 09:44

Watsisname wrote:
Wow. Thank you, midtskogen. I hope many more people read that.

Everything is shut down here in NY, Wat.  Is there anything that can be used to break down a virus after it's landed on a surface or even in mid air?  Like a chemical that dissolves viruses or breaks down their DNA?  I haven't seen anyone ask this anywhere.  If there was a chemical that could dissolve viruses or break down their DNA could it be sprayed from a helicopter above infected areas?
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 10:25

A-L-E-X, RNA in the case of this virus and dissolving it is easy.  Any strong cleaning product like bleach, detergent soaps, or above 60% isopropyl will sterilize effectively.
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TitanGuy
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 10:45

Didn't the chinese cure most of their infected people? Also, the guys treated it with some vitamins.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 10:54

DoctorOfSpace wrote:
A-L-E-X, RNA in the case of this virus and dissolving it is easy.  Any strong cleaning product like bleach, detergent soaps, or above 60% isopropyl will sterilize effectively.

Thanks, Doc!  Microbiology has always fascinated me.... back when I was in college viruses weren't considered alive, but I always had a problem with that stance.  I take it they now represent the sixth kingdom of life on our planet?  The other thing which fascinated me is that while most viruses are either RNA or DNA with a coating of protein, there are some really small ones that lack any protein coating at all and are just naked strands of DNA or RNA?  Are these called prions or viroids?  Were these the first forms of life on our planet?  Or does that honor belong to the single celled organisms that we absorbed into our cells and gave us mitochondrial DNA?
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 12:06

Oh, it was vitamin C.
 
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midtskogen
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 14:46

TitanGuy wrote:
Source of the post Didn't the chinese cure most of their infected people?

No.  Very few need treatment, not much can be done anyway.  The Chinese effectively quarantined people and areas, which stopped the virus from spreading in those areas.  South Korea did the same. 
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Watsisname
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 17:14

The page midtskogen linked above continues to be updated and discusses more containment/mitigation strategies and their effects.

https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca

In particular, the travel ban on Europe won't do very much for the US. It may have bought us about a day. What's far more important is to reduce the average transmission rate through social distancing. Because of the nature of exponential/logistic growth (see the 3b1b video above), even a small reduction in the transmission rate has a large effect on the curve. We probably cannot stop the virus, but we can slow it down enough so that the health care system doesn't get overwhelmed and can better deal with severe cases. The name of the game now is to flatten the curve:

Image

We know that this strategy works. We have seen it done not just in China, but also Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong. What is common to these countries? They have all been through this before, with the SARS outbreak in 2003. They knew how to act. Now it's the rest of the world's turn.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 17:32

But there's a cure anyway, and the virus is nothing more than a somewhat more severe flu, so it's not that much of a deal (unless it mutates, that's true). Besides, most of the victims were elders. And China... well, China still managed to cure the people relatively easy anyway (even tho they used quarantine, but hey, they are a communist state, so why not?). They are already closing temporary hospitals and wrapping things up officially. And if you think about it, people still get infected at a similar rate by normal flu and stuff.
 
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Watsisname
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

12 Mar 2020 18:00

TitanGuy wrote:
Source of the post But there's a cure anyway

Did you not read midtskogen's reply to you just above?

Nobody has been cured. There is no cure, and there will not be a vaccine ready for probably 12-18 months (and having it ready that fast would be a record). In China they took dramatic measures to slow the spread of the virus and now most of the infected have recovered naturally. 

Meanwhile the entire population of China that did not yet get exposed to this virus is still at risk. If containment measures are reduced too much too quickly, it can spread again and we'd see another surge of cases.
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