Turning the Corner on Coronavirus
By Don Rosenberg 3/24/2020
I have been carefully monitoring the progress of the coronavirus, carefully trying to sort out the panic from the truth. In an article last week I explained the reasons why different groups, the Democrats, the news media and others, are hyping this disease. The Democrats know the only way they can defeat Trump (or at least gain the Senate or hold the House in 2020) is to make him look ineffective. The news media hate Trump and want him defeated, but they also love the idea of having millions of Americans stuck at home watching their news channels 24/7.
This chart shows deaths per season for the flu over the last eight years. They range from 12,000 in the 2011-12 season to 61,000 in the 2017-18 season. Many have been wondering, “Why all the panic?”
In my opinion, digging for the good news hidden among the disaster drama, and checking the facts from neutral sources, in three months we will be wondering what all the fuss was about.
There are several basic reasons…
Temperature and seasonality
Turns out global warming is a good thing, especially when it comes to coronavirus. “Flu season” is between mid-November and mid-April and usually lasts about eight weeks in total. There is every reason to expect that coronavirus will also have a season and will decline soon.
It is also a proven fact that the coronavirus, like other viruses, when exposed to temperatures above 77°, becomes “plump” and less viable. That’s why we see the worst cases in the cooler parts of the U.S. Cases reported in southern states almost all of them were imported from travelers.
Using a very recent chart from the New York Times, here’s what a quick calculation reveals…
In other words, northern states account for almost 75% of all cases. It’s likely that when the warm weather starts, cases will start to decline rapidly.
There will soon be a drug combination that will reduce the severity of the disease. Extremely promising results were found in France from a world-renowned virologist who gave the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin (Z-Pac) to 26 patients, and, within 6 days, all were virus-free. More extensive studies have started elsewhere, but the results are so promising that many hospitals are using the treatment before the studies are completed. These are drugs that are well-known in the medical community.
The only concern would be ramping up production of these drugs, which has already started. Other treatment options are also being tested.
Vaccine trials are also well underway. These trials take much longer for a very simple reason – a “treatment” is given to only the people who are ill. If you have 1,000 cases and the treatment gives a bad reaction to 5%, you harm 50 people. But with vaccines, your plan is to inoculate 100 million people, so if even .1% get a bad reaction, that’s 100,000 people you’ve harmed. So extensive testing needs to be done to make sure that the side effects of the vaccine are less than the danger from the actual disease.
The fact that many people get the virus and recover, especially younger people, is actually good news. Once you’ve recovered from the virus, you’re immune. The rapid spread of the disease was exacerbated by the fact that this was a “novel” virus, which means no one was immune and everyone could be infected. If, over the next six months, 60-75% contract the virus and recover, when the cold weather is back again, there will be few people to catch and spread the disease.
The steps we’ve taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus mean we are more prepared and less likely to overwhelm our hospitals to the point where one may have 100 ventilators for 300 critical cases. That’s where the majority of deaths have been in Italy and China. Critical patients were lined up in the hallways with no effective respiratory support available.
We’ve earned time to learn from other countries. We’re rapidly developing effective treatments that will save lives in the short term, and herd immunity and vaccines will control it in the long term.
So stay at home for a while, wash your hands, and continue to gain us more time. Our new hand-washing skills will probably have a beneficial impact on deaths from the common flu.
President Trump has indicated that after the 15 day self-quarantine, he will be looking at specific areas of that are doing well, and start to relax the restrictions so we can all get back to work while using as many precautions as possible. If areas flare back up again, local authorities will clamp back down.
The other good news is that what we’ve learned about the coronavirus this season will prepare us for the time when a much more serious flu or other contagion emerges.