Necessary info on Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
There are two reasons that make COVID-19 a serious threat. First, it can kill healthy adults, in addition to the elderly with health problems. So far data show that the virus has a fatality risk of about 1%. This ranking would make it several times more severe than the typical seasonal epidemics and place it between the 1957 influenza epidemic (0.6%) and the 1918 influenza epidemic (2%).
Second, COVID-19 is transmitting very fast. A moderately ill person can spread the disease to two or three other people. This is a powerful increase. There is also strong evidence that the virus can be transmitted by people who are slightly affected or have not yet experienced symptoms.
This means that COVID-19 will be more difficult to control than the Middle East Breathing Syndrome or Severe Acute Breathing Syndrome (SARS), which were only spread by people with symptoms and were not spread by so easy. In fact, COVID-19 has caused 10 times more cases than SARS in a quarter of the time.
The good news is that nations, states, local governments and public health agencies are taking action in the coming weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. The world should also accelerate work on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Scientists managed to discover the genome of the virus and prepared several experimental vaccines within days. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparation Innovations is preparing 8 vaccines for clinical trials.
If one or more of these vaccines turns out to be safe and effective in animals, they may be ready to be tested in more clinics in June. Also, drug discovery can be accelerated by using compounds that have been tested and found to be safe. New screening techniques, including machinery that can identify antivirals that may be ready to be tested extensively in clinics, should be applied in the coming weeks.
The world needs to save lives, but also to improve the way we respond to such outbreaks in general. The first point is more pressing, but the second has major long-term consequences.