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Coronavirus and other pandemics

Maister

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Moderator note:

moved from RTDNTOTO

In the interests of full disclosure, the Coronavirus has not officially been declared a 'pandemic' just yet (but is trending powerfully in that direction), however, I have pessimistically titled the thread such because it seems like that's going to be the case sooner rather than later. And, frankly, I'd much rather have folks laugh and point at me later saying "see, there was no pandemic" than for me to be correct in this prediction. So here's to hoping I'm wrong.

One of the reasons for my pessimism is that I have a friend who works at the CDC that has (privately) shared her views on the challenges this bug presents. It comes as no surprise that the world is much much smaller today than it was years ago. One of the side effects of this global connectivity is all that travel and trade increases the potential for worldwide pandemic dramatically. An airborne transmissible virus having an incubation period of two weeks has the potential of exposing hundreds or even thousands of individuals for EACH infected individual. Three airports (say, London, Tokyo, and New York) would be adequate to infect every continent on earth. Viruses with long incubation periods not only have the potential to promote unknowing infection, but depending on the symptoms, make pinpointing contact and diagnosis that much more difficult as no one is going to remember all the times they yawned, rubbed their eyes or entered a public space where someone else coughed or sneezed.

Other scary bugs, like Ebola, have limiting factors such as geographic remoteness or high lethality (folks die too quickly after contracting it to spread much). Bugs like SARS are less transmissible. This Coronavirus has the potential to be really bad.
 

Whose Yur Planner

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I remember reading The Hot Zone in the 90's while on a bus trip. It was a terrifying book about Ebola. I agree with you than pandemics is a significant downside to our global connectivity.
 

DVD

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Yep, my wife's aunt is all freaked out by the virus. To make it worse there is one reported case at the local university. I don't think she needs to worry since she only leaves the house to play bridge and get more wine.
 

WSU MUP Student

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Remember when there was a big anthrax scare following 9/11?

In the late '90s I actually got the anthrax vaccine (along with a smallpox vaccine) through a series of 6 or 8 shots before traveling to some areas of the world where those diseases were still a risk.
 

Whose Yur Planner

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Remember when there was a big anthrax scare following 9/11?
An odd aside to that. It was during that timeframe that I kept getting sinus and ear infections. As a result. I was constantly on antibiotics. One of them was used for anthrax. I remember thinking that if there is an upside to the constant infections is that I don't have to worry about anthrax.
 

kjel

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Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.
Don't cough in anyone's face.
Don't touch your face.
If you're sick, stay home.
 
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michaelskis

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I think that this might be a bigger deal that many are willing to accept, especially for major urban areas where personal contact is greater. I don't think it will wipe out humanity or anything, but I think that it is a much bigger deal than the flu. The World Health Organization has a lot of information on it, and overall, I think with practical prevention methods, we will be ok.

We did have a City Council member show up last week with a mask on for a meeting. It was the first one that I have seen in person since all of this started.
 

MD Planner

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Just because I'm curious, why do you think "it is a much bigger deal than the flu"? The coronavirus has killed 1/10th as many people as influenza.
 

WSU MUP Student

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Just because I'm curious, why do you think "it is a much bigger deal than the flu"? The coronavirus has killed 1/10th as many people as influenza.
I'm curious as well.

The stuff that I've seen shows the coronavirus is infecting a lot of people and spreading relatively quickly but it isn't as severe or as deadly as the annual influenza strain. The worst case scenario models I've seen show that it could infect hundreds of thousands or even close to a million but have a lower mortality rate, especially when compared to what damage other, more familiar, viruses might do if they infected a similar number of people in a season. Coronavirus is noteworthy for the speed at which it spreads, it's "newness", and the fact that they haven't really pinpointed down exactly how it spreads (or, conversely, ruled out ways it doesn't spread). It's not it's mortality rate that is making it noteworthy.


Now if it does indeed spread to a million people, it could definitely have devastating economic effects even if not many are dying, especially if there are significant pockets of infection in large industrial or commercial centers. There have been no reported cases here in Michigan but there is already talk of auto manufacturers slowing down production or shutting down lines as factories in China are facing the possibility of shutting down while the infection scare passes. Then there is the economic cost associated with the time and money it takes to disinfect everything before factories and tech centers open back up. If this worsens and drags on through the rest of the quarter, I would expect the next automotive production forecasts to be revised slightly downward from what they were projecting earlier. The same scenario is likely playing out in other industries as well.
 

michaelskis

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Just because I'm curious, why do you think "it is a much bigger deal than the flu"? The coronavirus has killed 1/10th as many people as influenza.
I'm curious as well.

The stuff that I've seen shows the coronavirus is infecting a lot of people and spreading relatively quickly but it isn't as severe or as deadly as the annual influenza strain. The worst case scenario models I've seen show that it could infect hundreds of thousands or even close to a million but have a lower mortality rate, especially when compared to what damage other, more familiar, viruses might do if they infected a similar number of people in a season. Coronavirus is noteworthy for the speed at which it spreads, it's "newness", and the fact that they haven't really pinpointed down exactly how it spreads (or, conversely, ruled out ways it doesn't spread). It's not it's mortality rate that is making it noteworthy.


Now if it does indeed spread to a million people, it could definitely have devastating economic effects even if not many are dying, especially if there are significant pockets of infection in large industrial or commercial centers. There have been no reported cases here in Michigan but there is already talk of auto manufacturers slowing down production or shutting down lines as factories in China are facing the possibility of shutting down while the infection scare passes. Then there is the economic cost associated with the time and money it takes to disinfect everything before factories and tech centers open back up. If this worsens and drags on through the rest of the quarter, I would expect the next automotive production forecasts to be revised slightly downward from what they were projecting earlier. The same scenario is likely playing out in other industries as well.
The virus was made known on New Years eve 2019 and there have already been more than 1000 deaths and more than 43,000 people now have it. One month ago, there was less than 50 confirmed cases. Some estimates indicate that 60 percent of the global population will become effected with it because of how it is spreading. Scientists say that as of right now, it has a 2% mortality rate. If these rates and estimates remain true, around 90 million could die within a very short time. All of this for something that we learned about 45 days ago... and there is still a lot that we don't know about it, including how it could mutate. It goes back to the idea of the enemy that you know vs the enemy that you don't know.

Now I don't think that many will die and I think the mortality rate will go down, but this has the trajectory to be more deadly than the flu which kills around 500,000 per year.
 

WSU MUP Student

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Based on some quick estimates of the possible exposed population in the hardest hit areas of China and the number of reported deaths, it currently has a mortality rate of 0.0001%. If we were to factor in the rest of the Chinese population or that of most of SE Asia, that rate falls very quickly. While there was an initial round of infections outside of China in January, that looks to have slowed significantly in the past week so maybe containment and quarantine efforts are working. I'm not an epidemiologist but I don't think we're looking at some sort of global health crisis reminiscent of the Spanish Flu.

For some perspective, this current strain of coronavirus has a case fatality rate of 2%, SARS has a cfr of 11% and MERS has a cfr of 45% (both SARS and MERS are other strains of the coronavirus). The H5N1 strain of the flu has a cfr of 60%.
 

Maister

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The virus was made known on New Years eve 2019 and there have already been more than 1000 deaths and more than 43,000 people now have it. One month ago, there was less than 50 confirmed cases. Some estimates indicate that 60 percent of the global population will become effected with it because of how it is spreading. Scientists say that as of right now, it has a 2% mortality rate. If these rates and estimates remain true, around 90 million could die within a very short time. All of this for something that we learned about 45 days ago... and there is still a lot that we don't know about it, including how it could mutate. It goes back to the idea of the enemy that you know vs the enemy that you don't know.

Now I don't think that many will die and I think the mortality rate will go down, but this has the trajectory to be more deadly than the flu which kills around 500,000 per year.
We almost take this sort of thing for granted, but the work that epidemiologists do is often nothing short of miraculous. As mentioned upthread, the global growth of cities, trade, and technology has made the world much more interconnected. This makes things more challenging for epidemiologists. However, they use technology and public (and private) agencies to identify, isolate, track, and quickly control the spread of disease when it crops up no matter where it happens on earth. Naturally, some places are harder to accomplish these tasks in than others. Had the coronavirus struck as recently as 40 years ago there would have been virtually no chance of identifying and containing the virus before it had reached pandemic levels. I hope they can pull it off now.

Based on some quick estimates of the possible exposed population in the hardest hit areas of China and the number of reported deaths, it currently has a mortality rate of 0.0001%. If we were to factor in the rest of the Chinese population or that of most of SE Asia, that rate falls very quickly. While there was an initial round of infections outside of China in January, that looks to have slowed significantly in the past week so maybe containment and quarantine efforts are working. I'm not an epidemiologist but I don't think we're looking at some sort of global health crisis reminiscent of the Spanish Flu.

For some perspective, this current strain of coronavirus has a case fatality rate of 2%, SARS has a cfr of 11% and MERS has a cfr of 45% (both SARS and MERS are other strains of the coronavirus). The H5N1 strain of the flu has a cfr of 60%.
While SARS and MERS have shown higher mortality rates, they are both considerably less communicable than this bug. What makes this one so potentially wicked is the speed and ease by which it has spread. It's also a bit too soon to draw definitive conclusions about its mortality rate. Pose this question 90 days in the future. Odds are we'll see this number go up.
 

WSU MUP Student

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Listening to the radio on my way into work this morning I heard there was a spike in reported cases in South Korea and it made me think of a coworker who left for a trade mission in Seoul on Sunday morning and hoping he doesn't get quarantined when he returns later this week.

There was a knock on my office door a couple of minutes ago and it appears he cancelled his trip... I cannot say I blame him. Our boss is on vacation but he decided to call him Saturday afternoon after news of the spike first broke and thankfully our boss allowed him to cancel the trip. Another friend at a different agency was on the same trip and went a day early, before the news broke. Hopefully he doesn't have any trouble when he returns.
 
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