(BANGKOK) — Authorities in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic began were moving forward Wednesday with efforts to test all 11 million residents for the virus within 10 days after a handful of fresh infections were found there.
The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, meanwhile, issued a blunt warning that cities and states could see more COVID-19 deaths and economic damage if they lift stay-at-home orders too quickly — a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump, who is pushing to right a free-falling economy.
“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a Senate committee and the nation Tuesday as more than two dozen states have begun to lift their lockdowns.
The tension in balancing people’s safety from the virus against the severe economic fallout is playing out in many other countries, too. Italy partially lifted lockdown restrictions last week only to see a big jump in confirmed coronavirus cases in its hardest-hit region. Pakistan reported 2,000 new infections in a single day for the first time after the easing of its lockdown saw crowds of people crammed into markets throughout the country.
China, the first nation to put a large number of its citizens under lockdown and the first to ease those restrictions, has been strictly guarding against any resurgence.
District health commissions and neighborhood committees in the city of Wuhan have been told to develop a plan to test all residents in their jurisdictions, local media reports said. The directive also said the testing should focus on the elderly, densely populated areas and places with mobile populations.
A person who answered the mayor’s hotline in Wuhan on Wednesday said local districts had been given 10 days to carry out the tests. The official declined to give his name because she was not authorized to speak to reporters.
The first cases of the new coronavirus were found in Wuhan in December, and by the end of January the government had placed the entire city and the surrounding region, home to more than 50 million people, under a strict lockdown.
A cluster of six new cases was recently found in one part of the city, the first local infections the government has reported in Wuhan since before the lockdown was eased in early April.
It wasn’t clear how many people would actually still need to be tested, as one expert at Wuhan University told the Global Times newspaper that up to 5 million residents of Wuhan have already been tested since the outbreak began.
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 4.2 million people and killed over 291,000 — with more than 82,000 deaths in the U.S. alone, the world’s highest toll. Experts say the actual numbers are likely far higher.
Progress was being made in many places, including New Zealand, which reported no new cases on Wednesday. It was the second day in a row without any and the fourth such day since early last week.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said it was encouraging news as New Zealand prepares to ease many of its lockdown restrictions on Thursday. Most businesses, including malls, retail stores and sit-down restaurants, will be able to reopen. Social distancing rules will remain in place and gatherings will be limited to 10 people.
“The sense of anticipation is both palpable and understandable,” Bloomfield said.
Authorities in South Korea said Wednesday that they had no immediate plans to revive strict social distancing rules despite a spike in cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul.
In his Senate testimony, Dr. Fauci said more infections and deaths are inevitable as people again start gathering, but how prepared communities are to stamp out those sparks will determine how bad the rebound is.
“There is no doubt, even under the best of circumstances, when you pull back on mitigation you will see some cases appear,” Fauci said.
Move too quickly and “the consequences could be really serious,” he added. It not only would cause “some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.”
With more than 30 million people unemployed in the U.S., Trump has been pressuring states to reopen.
A recent Associated Press review determined that 17 states did not meet a key White House benchmark for loosening restrictions — a 14-day downward trajectory in new cases or positive test rates. Yet many of those states have begun to reopen or are about to do so, including Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.
Of the 33 states that have had a 14-day downward trajectory, 25 are partially opened or moving to reopen within days, the AP analysis found. Other states that have not seen a 14-day decline remain closed despite meeting some benchmarks.
Fauci expressed optimism that eventually vaccines will arrive, along with treatments in addition to the one drug that so far has shown a modest effect in fighting COVID–19. But it would be “a bridge too far” to expect them in time for fall, when schools hope to reopen, he said.
Although Trump declared this week that “we have met the moment, and we have prevailed” in increasing and improving virus testing, Republican senators on the panel were noticeably less sanguine.
A lack of testing has dogged the U.S. response from the beginning, when a test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ran into numerous problems. Sen. Mitt Romney said the U.S. may finally have outpaced testing leader South Korea but that country has far fewer deaths because it started testing early.
“I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever,” said Romney, a Republican from Utah.
Trump administration “testing czar” Adm. Brett Giroir said the U.S. could be performing at least 40 million to 50 million tests per month by September. That would work out to between 1.3 million and 1.7 million tests per day. Harvard researchers have said the U.S. must be doing 900,000 by this Friday in order to safely reopen.
Neergaard reported from Washington. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.
In contrast to governmental paralysis and confusion caused by the pandemic, pharmaceutical and biotech firms around the globe are swarming Covid-19 in an effort to stop it in its tracks.
Last September, Gallup released an opinion poll that surveyed Americans’ views of U.S. businesses, ranking 25 different sectors from very positive to very negative. The pharmaceutical industry came in dead last, lower than at any time since Gallup started the poll in 2001.
“We’re below Congress, below bankers, below tobacco,” lamented Ken Frazier, chief executive of drug giant Merck.
What a difference a global pandemic makes.
Today the world is depending upon the pharmaceutical industry to not only save lives, but economies around the world. At this very moment, pharmaceutical companies and biotech startups from San Francisco and Boston to Tianjin, Tokyo and Galilee, are staging a multi-front battle against the novel coronavirus akin to the sea, land and air assault conducted by the allies against Nazi Germany on D-Day during World War II.
There are no fewer than 267 different COVID-19 remedies in development, according to an analysis by Umer Raffat, a senior managing director of investment bank Evercore ISI, with more experimental treatments being added almost daily. This includes testing drugs already available but designed for other ailments, new experimental therapeutics, and vaccines that are being developed from scratch.
The attack against coronavirus is coming from all sides. There are synthetic peptide-based vaccines consisting of two or more linked amino acids created in a lab to immunize against the virus; there are so called nucleic acid vaccines genetically engineered from DNA or RNA sequences of the pathogen; antiviral medications, similar to Tamiflu, that target the virus itself; there are new remedies using existing arthritis drugs to contain the immune system, which sometimes inadvertently kills patients as it unleashes its force on COVID-19. Underlying the multitude of efforts underway is the reality that most drugs in development are ultimately unsuccessful.
“A lot of companies are doing the rational thing: testing therapies already in their pipeline which have a plausible mechanism of action. We need to get drugs into clinical trials rapidly so we can quickly learn and double down behind promising results and follow the winners,” says Vivek Ramaswamy, CEO of Roivant Sciences, a drug development firm that acquires hidden gems among forgotten drugs in the pharmaceutical pipelines.
“The idea is to find the best horse in each of the categories. Antivirals plus host immune response modulation makes a lot of sense, but we need to find the best therapeutic in each category, for the right patient population.” says Ramaswamy, who studied biology at Harvard, was a hedge fund analyst and earned a Yale law degree before he began building his innovative biotech firm in 2015. “For antivirals, is it a nucleoside, or an antimalarial which prevents viral propagation in a different way? For immune response modulation, is it anti-IL-6 or anti-GM-CSF? The answer may differ by patient population. Let’s sort those questions out quickly.”
Ramaswamy says that it’s difficult to have a national strategy for the coronavirus predicated on a vaccine that would provide immunity to COVID-19 because it will take a year to a year-and-a-half, optimistically, to have something ready for use on a national scale. But if latency occurs and the coronavirus becomes a perennial problem, akin to the seasonal flu, vaccines will be important.
Sanofi’s vaccine unit is partnering with the federal government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, piggybacking off work that was done on a SARS vaccine and its recombinant vaccine program. But Sanofi doesn’t expect trials in patients for about a year-and-a-half.
Johnson & Johnson has been working on COVID-19 vaccines since January. In late March it announced its Janssen unit would be pushing forward a candidate in a $1 billion partnership with the federal government with the goal of rapidly supplying more than one billion doses. J&J says its vaccine should be in human trials by September and that first batches could be used for front-line medical workers by early 2021.
Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech Moderna Therapeutics also signed a partnership deal with the federal government’s BARDA. It claims that it may be able to shorten the relatively long development time for a vaccine. Like Ebola and measles, COVID-19 is an RNA virus, meaning it has no DNA but instead uses the host’s cells to replicate itself. Moderna specializes in developing drugs based on RNA. In this case it is attempting to give messenger RNA the cellular machinery to make proteins that generate an immune response in the body, creating antibodies that could protect against the virus itself. By the middle of March, Moderna started testing its RNA-based vaccine in low doses in people in Seattle.
Moderna’s billionaire CEO Stephané Bancel says his company’s vaccine could be available to medical workers as early as this fall. In fact Bancel is so eager to speed up the process, and confident about Moderna’s vaccine, that the company is already dipping into corporate funds to gear up and prepare materials for later stage clinical trials even though it hasn’t cleared its first hurdle.
The issue with the messenger RNA approach is that it was initially designed to be used in much more targeted and small scale situations, like cancer and rare diseases, as opposed to infectious disease. In fact, an mRNA vaccine has never even been approved by the FDA. If Moderna’s vaccine is effective, manufacturing enough RNA to provide immunity for hundreds of millions could be a challenge. Still, Bancel insists that Moderna could produce millions of doses by the fall.
“We need to practice some measure of social distancing until we have vaccines,” says Peter Kolchinsky, cofounder of $4 billion biotech hedge fund RA Capital Management and author of The Great American Drug Deal: A New Prescription for Innovation and Affordable Medicines.
Kolchinsky doesn’t expect any large-scale vaccines until the first half of 2021, at earliest. As a result he thinks all establishments that rely on public gathering should remain closed until then — from restaurants and sporting events, to subways and maybe even schools. “We’ll know if any of the first wave of vaccines are working during the June to October 2020 window. We can make better predictions as we see that data roll out,” Kolchinksy says. He thinks the mRNA vaccine could become available by the end of 2020, but it will likely require multiple doses per patient, which could translate into hundreds of millions of doses needed per month. Says Kolchinksy, “I’m keeping an eye on vaccines that could take just one dose to work, which could be the case for J&J’s vaccine.”
Another important and perhaps more pressing front in the war against COVID-19 is therapeutics because they promise to have an immediate impact on people already afflicted by the influenza as well as tamp down the impact of an expected second wave of the pandemic. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is urging the federal government to set up robust partnerships with companies working on therapeutics, just as it has with the vaccine makers.
Kolchinsky says it’s too early to tell which of the many therapeutics being tested will work, but he expects drug combinations will emerge. He adds some drugs might start to be available by fall to treat the most serious cases and that doctors might alter the way available drugs, like antimalarial remedy chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, are used as fresh data on their efficacy become available. Hydroxychloroquine is already being used in some hospitals in combination with antibiotic azithromycin, often used for bacterial infections like strep throat and bronchitis.
Kolchinsky says that the attention being given to the malarial drugs is warranted because the drugs have shown some efficacy in pre-clinical in-vitro work. So far the early studies in people have been mixed, but it appears they may work better if someone infected with Sars-CoV-2 receives it early in treatment, much the way Tamiflu is administered. The trouble is coronavirus can have mild symptoms often ignored initially until it suddenly gets much worse. Malarial drugs like hydroxychloroquine require a prescription, so by the time they are prescribed by a physician, their efficacy against COVID-19 could be diminished.
In Japan, Fujifilm Holding subsidiary Toyama Chemical’s antiviral favipiravir, also known as Avigan, is showing promise in reducing the severity and duration of COVID-19. In a limited test of patients from China, those treated with favipiravir, which was approved as an antiviral for use in Japan in 2014, tested negative for the virus after four days compared to the 11 days it took the control group to recover.
Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir has shown preclinical promise but it needs to be administered early and intravenously. The concern is that people infected with Sars-CoV-2 might get it too late in the cycle. Results from some of remdesivir’s clinical trials are expected as early as this month.
David Witzke, co-managing partner of Avidity Partners, a biotech and healthcare hedge fund firm, points to rheumatoid arthritis drugs that inhibit the pro-inflammatory protein known as cytokine IL-6 as being potentially promising for COVID-19 patients in later stages, often in ICU units and on ventilators.
These drugs could be effective in reducing the risk of a cytokine storm of the body’s immune system. Cytokines are molecules that signal cells to marshal an immune response. In some COVID-19 cases, particularly younger patients, the overzealous molecules actually cause the immune system to not only vanquish the virus but go on to attack organs like the lungs and liver, causing failures and ultimately death. Sanofi and Regeneron’s Kevzara are working on a therapeutic designed to prevent such cytokine storms.
“Anti-inflammatory drugs, the IL-6 antibodies, like Actemra at Roche and the products at Regeneron, seem to be helpful in patients when their lungs get full of inflammation,” says Witzke. “These are drugs on the market [today] so they are available and if they are helping these late stage patients that will be a benefit. We are more optimistic about those drugs.”
Another set of remedies known as JAK inhibitors reduce IL-6 antibodies, but also attack a whole host of other pro-inflammatory cytokines. Jakafi and barticinib are two arthritis drugs in development by Delaware biotech firm Incyte and pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly that are now being studied. JAK inhibitors are riskier because they offer a broad attack, akin to firing a shotgun rather than a rifle, at the problem. But the JAK inhibitors could also diminish the risk of a cytokine storm. Data on JAK inhibitor effectiveness on COVID-19 should be available by summer. Roivant’s Gimsilumab targets another cytokine, GM-CSF, which has been identified as causing severe respiratory distress for COVID-19 patients in China who required intensive care.
Another hotbed for coronavirus cures are monoclonal antibodies, which are antibodies that bind to the spike proteins of COVID-19 and ultimately neutralize it. Monoclonal antibodies can be “cloned” from blood plasma and Regeneron is a leader in this effort. For the novel coronavirus it has cloned antibodies from the blood of mice, which have been infected and recovered from the disease. If Regeneron’s new treatment proves effective in clinical trials it could be available by the fall. This could be a game changer because monoclonal antibodies can be used both as a cure for infected patients, as well as a kind of vaccine for the general population.
Depending on the half-life of the monoclonal antibody, a person could have coverage for up to a month, which could be very useful for those with a family member who has come down with an infection. Regeneron, which is selecting two antibodies for its COVID-19 cocktail treatment, is following the playbook that worked for it against the Ebola epidemic in the Congo.
“Regeneron is one of the best protein engineering companies in the world and they have one or more monoclonal antibodies. What is very encouraging is the virus does not appear to be mutating at any great rate,” says Witzke.
Eli Lilly and San Francisco’s Vir Biotechnology, are also using monoclonal antibodies to create their cure but they are harvesting their antibodies from human patients who have survived COVID-19. Antibodies naturally produced against the virus are being engineered into a remedy that the companies hope to mass produce. Vir said in March that it has identified multiple human monoclonal antibody development candidates that effectively thwart the virus and anticipates that human trials could begin within three to five months.
In a way, Vir and Eli Lilly are putting a modern spin on treatment that has been around for more than a century—using plasma and its antibodies from patients who have recovered from a viral infection and giving it to patients infected with the virus. In fact using convalescent plasma for treatment was effective against diptheria in the 1890s and scarlet fever in the 1920s. What drug companies like Vir and Eli Lilly are doing today is much more targeted because their researchers are actually picking out the specific antibody.
In the meantime, U.S. blood donation centers are already ramping up efforts to collect plasma from recovered coronavirus patients the old-fashioned way while the efficacy of such efforts is still being studied.
“If I was a patient, I would be interested in it. It’s a quick way to get antibodies from survivors into you and you can do that immediately,” says Witzke, noting that he is an investor with no training in medicine. “I would rather have a more targeted approach like what Regeneron is doing but if you’re in a tough place today, I would turn to [plasma] immediately.”
I am a senior editor at Forbes who likes digging into Wall Street, hedge funds and private equity firms, looking for both the good and the bad. I also focus on the intersection of business and the law.
Several biotech firms are racing to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine. One company in San Diego, California, says it may already have a viable product. But there are several challenges to getting it on the market
Topline: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a Sunday CNN appearance that “if we don’t get more ventilators in the next 10 days, people will die who don’t have to die” as the city—now the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic—faces a possible shortage of medical supplies.
“We’re about 10 days from seeing widespread shortages,” de Blasio said, adding, “We have seen next to nothing from the federal government at this point.”
De Blasio also said that the military hasn’t been mobilized by the Trump administration, and that the Defense Production Act, which the president invoked by executive order Wednesday, has not been put into motion.
“It feels like we’re on our own at this point,” de Blasio said, adding that April would be worse for New York City than March has been, and he fears May could be even worse.
CNN also reported Sunday that Federal Emergency Management Agency head Peter Gaynor could not provide a number of how many medical masks were in the federal stockpile or how many have been shipped to state and local governments.
In a sign of demand on medical supplies, a Friday letter from a New York-Presbyterian Hospital department head said each employee would only be given one N95 mask (when it typically uses 4,000 per day).
Big number: 300 million. That’s how many masks could be needed for healthcare workers versus the current stockpile of 30 million, as testified to Congress by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the end of February.
Key background: The Defense Production Act is intended to be used by Trump to obtain “health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of Covid-19, including personal protective equipment and ventilators.” Trump faced questions Thursday around his reticence to use the Defense Production Act to compel companies to produce healthcare items to combat the coronavirus, one day after he said he’d be invoking its powers. The New York Times reported Thursday that both the U.S. and countries abroad are facing a shortage of ventilators, with manufacturers saying that they can’t increase production to meet the demand.
I’m a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: Gotham Gazette, Bklyner, Thrillist, Task & Purpose and xoJane.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus and the illness it causes called COVID-19 has sparked alarm worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency, and many countries are grappling with a rise in confirmed cases. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people to be prepared for disruptions to daily life that will be necessary if the coronavirus spreads within communities.
Below, we’re responding to a number of questions about COVID-19 raised by Harvard Health Blog readers. We hope to add further questions and update answers as reliable information becomes available.
Yes, the virus can spread from one person to another, most likely through droplets of saliva or mucus carried in the air for up to six feet or so when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Viral particles may be breathed in, land on surfaces that people touch, or be transferred when shaking hands or sharing a drink with someone who has the virus.
Often it’s obvious if a person is ill, but there are cases where people who do not feel sick have the virus and can spread it.
Quarantines and travel restrictions now in place in many counties, including the US, are also intended to help break the chain of transmission. Public health authorities like the CDC may recommend other approaches for people who may have been exposed to the virus, including isolation at home and symptom monitoring for a period of time (usually 14 days), depending on level of risk for exposure. The CDC has guidelines for people who have the virus to help with recovery and prevent others from getting sick.
What is the incubation period for the coronavirus?
An incubation period is the time between being exposed to a germ and having symptoms of the illness. Current estimates suggest that symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear around five days on average, but the incubation period may be as short as two days to as long as 14 days.
What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus?
Fever, dry cough, and trouble breathing are the common symptoms of COVID-19. There have been some reports of gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) before respiratory symptoms occur, but this is largely a respiratory virus.
Those who have the virus may have no obvious symptoms (be asymptomatic) or symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In some cases, the virus can cause pneumonia and potentially be life-threatening.
Most people who get sick will recover from COVID-19. Recovery time varies and, for people who are not severely ill, may be similar to the aftermath of a flulike illness. People with mild symptoms may recover within a few days. People who have pneumonia may take longer to recover (days to weeks). In cases of severe, life-threatening illness, it may take months for a person to recover, or the person may die.
Can people who are asymptomatic spread coronavirus?
A person who is asymptomatic may be shedding the virus and could make others ill. How often asymptomatic transmission is occurring is unclear.
Can the coronavirus live on soft surfaces like fabric or carpet? What about hard surfaces?
How long the new coronavirus can live on a soft surface — and more importantly, how easy or hard it is to spread this way — isn’t clear yet. So far, available evidence suggests it can be transmitted less easily from soft surfaces than frequently-touched hard surfaces, such as a doorknob or elevator button.
According to the WHO, coronaviruses may survive on surfaces for just a few hours or several days, although many factors will influence this, including surface material and weather.
That’s why personal preventive steps like frequently washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and wiping down often-touched surfaces with disinfectants or a household cleaning spray, are a good idea.
Should I wear a face mask to protect against coronavirus? Should my children?
Follow public health recommendations where you live. Currently, face masks are not recommended for the general public in the US. The risk of catching the virus in the US is low overall, but will depend on community transmission, which is higher in some regions than in others. Even though there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, most people are more likely to catch and spread influenza (the flu). (So far this season, there have been nearly 30 million cases of flu and 17,000 deaths.)
Some health facilities require people to wear a mask under certain circumstances, such as if they have traveled from areas where coronavirus is spreading, or have been in contact with people who did or with people who have confirmed coronavirus.
If you have respiratory symptoms like coughing or sneezing, experts recommend wearing a mask to protect others. This may help contain droplets containing any type of virus, including the flu, and protect close contacts (anyone within three to six feet of the infected person).
Should someone who is immunocompromised wear a mask?
If you are immunocompromised because of an illness or treatment, talk to your doctor about whether wearing a mask is helpful for you in some situations. Advice could vary depending on your medical history and where you live. Many people will not need to wear a mask, but if your healthcare provider recommends wearing one in public areas because you have a particularly vulnerable immune system or for other reasons, follow that advice.
Should I accept packages from China?
There is no reason to suspect that packages from China harbor COVID-19. Remember, this is a respiratory virus similar to the flu. We don’t stop receiving packages from China during their flu season. We should follow that same logic for this novel pathogen.
Can I catch the coronavirus by eating food prepared by others?
We are still learning about transmission of COVID-19. It’s not clear if this is possible, but if so it would be more likely to be the exception than the rule. That said, COVID-19 and other coronaviruses have been detected in the stool of certain patients, so we currently cannot rule out the possibility of occasional transmission from infected food handlers. The virus would likely be killed by cooking the food.
Should I travel on a plane with my children?
Keep abreast of travel advisories from regulatory agencies and understand that this is a rapidly changing situation. The CDC has several levels of travel restrictions depending on risk in various countries and communities.
Of course, if anyone has a fever and respiratory symptoms, that person should not fly if at all possible. Anyone who has a fever and respiratory symptoms and flies anyway should wear a mask on an airplane.
Is there a vaccine available for coronavirus?
No vaccine is available, although scientists are working on vaccines. In 2003, scientists tried to develop a vaccine to prevent SARS but the epidemic ended before the vaccine could enter clinical trials.
Is there a treatment available for coronavirus?
Currently there is no specific antiviral treatment for this new coronavirus. Treatment is therefore supportive, which means giving fluids, medicine to reduce fever, and, in severe cases, supplemental oxygen. People who become critically ill from COVID-19 may need a respirator to help them breathe. Bacterial infection can complicate this viral infection. Patients may require antibiotics in cases of bacterial pneumonia as well as COVID-19.
Antiviral treatments used for HIV and other compounds are being investigated.
There’s no evidence that supplements, such as vitamin C, or probiotics will help speed recovery.
How is this new coronavirus confirmed?
A specialized test must be done to confirm that a person has COVID-19. Most testing in the United States has been performed at the CDC. However, testing will become more available throughout the country in the coming weeks.
How deadly is this coronavirus?
We don’t yet know. However, signs suggest that many people may have had mild cases of the virus and recovered without special treatment.
The original information from China likely overestimated the risk of death from the virus. Right now it appears that the risk of very serious illness and death is less than it was for SARS and MERS. In terms of total deaths in the United States, influenza overwhelmingly causes more deaths today than COVID-19.
What should people do if they think they have coronavirus or their child does? Go to an urgent care clinic? Go to the ER?
If you have a health care provider or pediatrician, call them first for advice. In most parts of the US, it’s far more likely to be the flu or another viral illness.
If you do not have a doctor and you are concerned that you or your child may have coronavirus, contact your local board of health. They can direct you to the best place for evaluation and treatment in your area.
Only people with symptoms of severe respiratory illness should seek medical care in the ER. Severe symptoms are rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, high or very low temperatures, confusion, trouble breathing, severe dehydration. Call ahead to tell the ER that you are coming so they can be prepared for your arrival.
Can people who recover from the coronavirus still be carriers and therefore spread it?
People who get COVID-19 need to work with providers and public health authorities to determine when they are no longer contagious.
What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19)? The World Health Organization declared the new #Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak a global health emergency in January 2020. Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine are closely monitoring the spread of the virus and offering useful information on what the disease is and how to help prevent transmission. For more information, please visit the #JohnsHopkins Medicine coronavirus website. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/coron…
By now, we’ve all seen the pictures and read the headlines. Coronavirus is real and its impact is growing.
How concerned should we be about the chance of infection? That’s difficult to say, but one thing is for sure: panic is not the answer.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we tend to do in situations like these. Flawed judgment takes over. We overreact. We suspect that we might already be infected. We prepare for the worst. Irrational impulses drown out level-headed thinking.
In fact, there is a lot of psychological research to explain how and why this happens. Below are three cognitive biases that make us perceive the threat of Coronavirus as worse than it actually is.
#1: Things that are easily imagined are judged as more likely to happen.
Have you ever worried about being attacked by a shark? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Almost everyone who swims in the ocean has, at some point, imagined the threat of a shark attack. Why? Not because the odds are high, but because we’ve seen the movie Jaws, we watch Shark Week every summer, and we hear about the occasional shark attack on the news. The idea of a shark attack is easy to imagine and we therefore think it could happen to us.
The same is true of Coronavirus. With hundreds of stories being published on Coronavirus every day, we are naturally led to believe that the epidemic is bigger, closer, and more dangerous than it actually is.
How can we combat this type of flawed reasoning? One way is to take a more passive interest in the news rather than being glued to the TV or reading every new Coronavirus headline that is published. This will make Coronavirus less top-of-mind, and therefore less threatening. Another is to engage in the following exercise. Ask yourself if you know anyone, personally, who has contracted the illness. If the answer is no (which it likely is), ask yourself if you know anyone who knows anyone who has been infected. If the answer to both of these questions is no, then rest assured that the threat of Coronavirus is less imminent than top-of-mind thinking might lead you to believe.
#2: Intuition is mostly a blessing. In cases like these, it can be a curse.
Our ability to make snap judgments is one of the wonders of the human mind. It allows us to navigate our complicated social environments with relative ease — akin to an airplane flying on autopilot. However, when it comes to math, probabilities, and rational decision making, our intuition can lead us astray. Consider the following brain teaser, popularized by the Nobel Laureate psychologist, Daniel Kahneman:
A baseball bat and a ball cost $1.10 together. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
Your answer? If you relied on intuition, you probably guessed 10 cents. Most people do. It takes a bit of deep thinking, however, to arrive at the correct answer, which is 5 cents.
Taking some time to do the math behind the Coronavirus might help to quell any hysteria you might be experiencing. And, it may be best to start with a simple calculation. There are about 7.5 billion people in the world. According to the New York Times, approximately 100,000 people have been infected as of yesterday. That means the current odds of anyone in the world contracting the virus is approximately 1 in 75,000. Combine that with the fact that few people who contract the virus actually become seriously ill and you can see how irrational the hysteria really is.
3#: Existential threats often receive more attention than they deserve.
Millions of years of evolution has endowed us with a cognitive architecture that is especially attuned to environmental threats. It’s how we were able to survive, and multiply, in dangerous environments such as the African Serengeti. While this phenomenon, known as the “negativity bias,” works wonders to keep us safe in threatening or unknown environments, it can also produce unnecessary worry. Be cognizant of the fact that your mind has this built-in survival mechanism. Be thankful for it, but give your rational mind the green light to turn it off when it is safe to do so.
Conclusion: Take a deep breath. Coronavirus is almost certainly not coming for you. And, even if it were, panic is not the answer. Wash your hands, continue enjoying your life, and leave the rest to chance. In this case, it’s on your side.
Mark Travers is a contributor for Forbes and Psychology Today, where he writes about psychology, human potential, and the science of success. Mark holds a B.A. in psychology, magna cum laude, from Cornell University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder. His academic research has been published in leading psychology journals and has been featured in the New York Times and The New Yorker, among other popular publications. Mark has worked in a variety of industries, including journalism, digital entrepreneurship, international education, and marketing research. Stay current with all of Mark’s articles, interviews, and insights by subscribing to his newsletter, the Weekly Top Three, here: tinyletter.com/markwtravers.