The Wuhan Coronavirus - Worse than SARS?
This low-key attitude by our government towards the Wuhan virus is wrong, I think. There is no sign, here in the UK, that our government is going to perform any massive mobilisation of resources to prepare for a major pandemic. The British government has not pledged to issue surgical masks to people in the UK in preparation for the virus's spread, or supply 'pandemic kits' to households, or build any prefabricated hospitals in UK cities especially for the epidemic. Unfortunately, I think such measures would be a very good idea. China may be building two prefabricated hospitals in Wuhan at this very moment, but they may have left it too late for those two hospitals to be anything other than front-line pandemic 'war-zone' centres. The hospitals' late arrivals means that they will not be able to control and quell the epidemic. Instead, they'll be overwhelmed by the infected.
The reason I'm taking this alarmist line is because the Wuhan virus may be even worse than people believed. So far, during this epidemic, I've found that YouTube has been a better source of information on the virus issues than our mainstream media. Some of YouTube's videos on the issue are erroneous and misleading but there are qualified doctors posting on the issue too. One of them, Peak Prosperity, has been posting quality videos for over a week now. Chris Martensen's (who has a PhD and a paper published in Nature) has posted his latest video, which is particularly worrying:
Peak Prosperity quotes professional epidemiological analyses of the Wuhan epidemic. These analyses haven't been peer-reviewed yet, which is the process by which a study is checked by senior scientists before being published in a scientific journal. Normally, everyone would wait until the paper was published before commenting on it but there simply isn't time to do that. A peer review process can take weeks or months. We therefore must pay attention to the study's results now… and the results are scary.
The studies quoted in the video, which seem to have the highest levels of scientific references, state that the Wuhan virus has a reproductive rate of 4 and a fatality rate, for those infected, comparable to SARS, which was 11%. This is terrible news. It means that the Wuhan virus spreads very rapidly, like a cold. Hosts can spread it for two weeks before showing symptoms. Those who are infected have an 11% chance of dying from the disease. In my last post, I discussed the possibility that the Wuhan virus might be like the Spanish Flu. If the above values are correct, the Wuhan virus will be like the Spanish Flu.
Our mainstream media is still, currently stating that the Wuhan virus might be more transmissible than SARS but it's less deadly. Several major news sources are currently saying that the Wuhan virus has a fatality rate of 2.2%. Unfortunately, they may be making the same mistake mainstream news sources made with SARS, during its early stages. This article from CIDRAP explains how the fatality rate for SARS was estimated at under 4% in the early stages of the epidemic, simply because many of those infected were in the early stages of the illness. Eventually, the fatality rate for those infected was finally declared to be 14% to 15% by the WHO (higher than the value reported in the earlier report), and the fatality rate for patients over 65 was a bone-chilling 55%.
I would say that the governments of all nations outside of China must immediately make large-scale preparations for handling the disease. Sadly, there's no sign at all of that happening. Instead, it's almost as if we're being told to carry on as normal as if nothing was looming on the horizon. Fortunately, we can act as individuals and make preparations. I'll repeat what I said in my last blog:
Several weeks supply of food, kept in the house, will help if the epidemic spreads to your country and you decide to minimise your contact with others for a while. A sensible supply of face-masks, first aid equipment, painkillers and related medical products will help, especially as these supplies would soon run out if an epidemic hit your area. It would also be a good idea to get into good hygiene habits, so that these become automatic. Washing your hands when you return home is a good idea. Another good habit is not touching your face with your hands, while out and about. These habits may seem minor but they work very well in preventing anyone contracting a cold or flu infection. Once you're doing this automatically, you'll be much safer when the virus hits your area.