How Is The Coronavirus Outbreak Going To End? Here’s How Similar Epidemics Played Out.

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As stock markets plunge, travel is disrupted and new coronavirus infections are diagnosed across the United States, one question on everyone’s mind is how the outbreak is going to end.

No one knows for sure, but virologists say there are clues from other similar outbreaks in the recent past. Here are the three most relevant scenarios:

— Health officials get control of the coronavirus through strict public health measures.

When severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) first hit Asia in 2002, it was pretty scary – with a fatality rate of about 10% and no drugs shown to be effective against it. (The current coronavirus by comparison has an estimated fatality rate of 2.3%.) But within months, SARS was brought under control, and for the most part stamped out, by international cooperation and strict, old-school public health measures such as isolation, quarantine and contact tracing.

This would be an ideal outcome. But the difference is that SARS had more severe symptoms than the current coronavirus, so people went to the hospital shortly after being infected.

Cases of the current coronavirus will be harder to catch and isolate, said Stuart Weston, a postdoctoral virologist at University of Maryland. Weston is one of a small group of researchers who have received samples of the new coronavirus and are now studying it. Weston and other experts warn the outbreak in the United States and other countries is much more widespread than tracked because many people with mild symptoms don’t even know they have been infected.

– Coronavirus hits less developed countries, and things get much worse before they get better.

One of the grim lessons from the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is how an epidemic can grow when it hits countries with weaker health infrastructures. This is why the World Health Organization and others have been putting so much attention on preparing countries in sub-Saharan Africa for the coronavirus, even though few cases so far have been reported there.

Compared to the coronavirus, Ebola was a less contagious disease, mainly transmitted by bodily fluids. The coronavirus by comparison can be transmitted in coughed and sneezed respiratory droplets that linger on surfaces. And yet Ebola infected more than 28,000 people and caused more than 11,000 deaths. Ebola is a much more lethal disease, and the outbreak was exacerbated by shortages of staff and supplies, poverty, delays by leaders and distrust of government.

WHO leaders have been trying to get countries to prepare. On Friday, the organization raised its assessment of coronavirus to the highest level. “This is a reality check for every government on the planet: Wake up. Get ready. This virus may be on its way, and you need to be ready,” said Michael Ryan, WHO’s director of health emergencies. “To wait, to be complacent to be caught unawares at this point, it’s really not much of an excuse.”

– The new coronavirus spreads so widely that it simply becomes a fact of life.

This is in essence what happened with the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. It spread quickly, eventually to an estimated 11 to 21% of the global population. The WHO declared it a pandemic, and there was widespread fear.

H1N1 turned out to be much milder than initially feared, causing little more than runny noses and coughs in most people. And H1N1 is now so commonplace, it’s simply seen as a part of the seasonal flus that come and go every year among the global population.

Early estimates on the fatality rate for H1N1 were much higher than the roughly 0.01 to 0.03% it turned out to be. Still, the CDC estimates that H1N1 killed 12,469 people in the United States during that first-year period from 2009 to 2010, infected 60.8 million cases and caused 274,304 hospitalizations. The true number is hard to ascertain because many who die of flu-related causes aren’t tested to see whether it was H1N1 or another flu strain. As context, the seasonal flu has killed at least 18,000 people in the United States so far this season, according to the CDC.

One reason H1N1 is a particularly good parallel, epidemiologists say, is because while it had a lower fatality rate than SARS or MERS, it was deadlier because of how infectious and widespread it became.

Not to be alarmist, but another possible parallel might be the 1918 Spanish flu, which had a 2.5 percent fatality rate, eerily close to what’s estimated for the coronavirus.

CDC calls Spanish flu “the deadliest pandemic flu virus in human history,” because of how it infected roughly one third of the world’s population and killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. Spanish flu, however, differed in that it was deadly to young and old, while coronavirus has proven to be most lethal to the elderly and left young people relatively unscathed.

Also, Florian Krammer, a virologist specializing on influenzas, noted that the world was vastly different in 1918.

“We didn’t have the tools to diagnose diseases or antibiotics to fight secondary infections. Hospitals back then were places where you went to die not to get treatment. And In 1918, the world was at war. And a lot of the people infected were soldiers stuck in trenches,” said Krammer of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “That’s hopefully, not how this is going to play out.”Seasonal flu has killed at least 18,000 people in the United States so far this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ultimately, how many people die of this new coronavirus depends on how widely it spreads, how prepared we are and what the virus’ true fatality rate turns out to be.

A few more key things will affect the coronavirus endgame.

If the coronavirus does indeed become ubiquitous like H1N1, it will be crucial to develop a vaccine. After the 2009 outbreak, experts developed an H1N1 vaccine that was included in flu shots people received in subsequent years. This helped protect especially vulnerable populations during following waves of infection.

In the more immediate future, however, anti-viral drugs may help, and labs around the world are testing their effectiveness against the coronavirus.

No one knows if the coronavirus is going to be affected by seasons like the flu, despite President DonaldTrump’s claims that it could “go away” in April with warmer temperatures.

“We’re still learning a lot about the virus,” said WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove. “Right now there’s no reason to think this virus would act differently in different climate settings. We’ll have to see what happens as this progresses.”

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they spread from animals to humans. Experts believe SARS spread from bats to civet cats to humans. The deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012 was probably transmitted from bats to camels to humans. With the coronavirus, no one knows what animals caused the current outbreak. And it’s a mystery scientists will need to solve to prevent it from repeating in the future.

So far, one prime suspect is a strange, endangered creature called the pangolin that looks like a cross between an anteater and an armadillo and whose scales are trafficked illegally.

“With SARS, once they figured out the animals responsible in China, they were able to start culling them from the live markets,” said Vineet Menachery, a virologist at University of Texas Medical Branch. “It’s like a burst water pipe. You have to find the source in order to shut it off.”

 (c) 2020, The Washington Post · William Wan  

{Matzav.com}

14 COMMENTS

  1. Coronavirus “epidemic” will end the same as the SARS “epidemic” hoax, Swine Flu “epidemic” hoax, Ebola “epidemic” hoax, etc.
    Hopefully when President Trump will get rid of the CIA criminal organization, he’ll get rid of other Deep State Organizations, like the CDC, as well.

      • Will you start wearing tinfoil hats when you’ll find out that this new virus will turn out to be a hoax, like the other ones?

        • Your brain is infected with much worse stuff. I would worry at this point about the virus. Go back to your basement and keep dreaming this stupidity, don’t forget to take your meds.

  2. Are there really insane people that think this whole thing is a hoax? That it’s not a virus with a very high transmission rate? That thousands of people in China have not died from it? That the mortality rate is not between .8%-2.9%? That Donald Trump is a sane man that knows any more about viruses than Ronald McDonald? That the Earth is flat, and the deep state pushes the spherical theory? That Matzav is run by Martian one eyed one horned flying lukshen kugel eaters? What ever happened to statistically intelligently superior Ashkenazic Jews with reasoning abilities?

    • You mean, are there really sane people that think this whole thing is not a hoax? Did you do any research? Haven’t you wondered why there’s not a word in the media this year about the flu, pneumonia and flu shots? Do you know that people in Wuhan and Beijing don’t know any person that died from this new hoax? President Trump hinted it clearly and only brainwashed idiots can’t think differently than what they’re spoon-fed by fake news.

  3. Corona virus is like loshen horah. It passes person to person w/o control. Some people it obvious that they are speaking loshen horah, and some people it’s more quiet and thru hints. Some people disregard all and spread their loshen hora in public domain(news,radio) community meetings,weddings,and gatherings while others do it by one by one contact. And once that loshen horah is out there it becomes almost impossible to stop! All it took was O N E person to spread the loshen hara and it gets to all 4 corners of the globe-killing people along the way…

  4. Ebola had between a 20%-90% fatality rate, an incredibly high transmission rate to exposed individuals, and a very quick reaction time that killed its victims within a matter of hours or days. It was the furthest thing from a hoax. Thank Hashem for every day that you’re alive, because you don’t realize how precarious that status is and how easily it can change. You should also thank Hashem that you are sheltered enough to make stupid statements like Ebola is a hoax, small pox wasn’t dangerous, people in Somalia aren’t starving, mental illness is a hoax from lazy people with no self control, child predators don’t exist in our communities, and so on. The world is a rosy place if you keep your head deep enough in the sand.

  5. Another important thing for frum Jews to remember is that this virus is deadly for older people. Younger people usually have only a flu-like illness, but older people can easily develop pneumonia and other problems and end up in the hospital, in the ICU on a respirator – or worse. According to WHO – the World Health Organization – for people in their 70s the death rate is 8%, and for those in their 80s, it’s 14 %. Not exactly your “seasonal flu.”

    And remember that someone can be spreading it for a few days before they feel symptoms. That could mean that a person could be developing it, and in the meantime visit their older mother, father or grandparent, or their older rebbi, and ch”v give them the virus before they realize that they themselves are ill.

    So learn about the virus and how to prevent it, and if you’re the least bit sick, STAY HOME. And stay away from older people until your doctor is sure you’re better. Why make risks for the people you love?

  6. Another important thing for frum Jews to remember is that this virus is deadly for older people. Younger people usually have only a flu-like illness, but older people can easily develop pneumonia and other problems and end up in the hospital, in the ICU on a respirator – or worse. According to WHO – the World Health Organization – for people in their 70s the death rate is 8%, and for those in their 80s, it’s 14 %. Not exactly your “seasonal flu.”

    And remember that someone can be spreading it for a few days before they feel symptoms. That could mean that a person could be developing it, and in the meantime visit their older mother, father or grandparent, or their older rebbi, and ch”v give them the virus before they realize that they themselves are ill.

    So learn about the virus and how to prevent it, and if you’re the least bit sick, STAY HOME. And stay away from older people until your doctor is sure you’re better. Why make risks for the people you love?

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