Are we underestimating the crisis posed by the Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)? Are we prepared?
The Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is serious and the impact underestimated. While china has taken the necessary measures, Europe and the US are complacent.
Initially observed in Wuhan, Hubei Province there are currently >7000 confirmed infections with a fatality rate of 2-3% indicating the worst case scenario of as many as 210 million deaths worldwide. As a comparison, SARS reached a maximum <10K cases with ~10% fatality rate. Spanish Flu infected (possibly) 500 million and killed an estimated 50 million but this is difficult to confirm since it coincided with the first war (Spain was a neutral country where reports were publicised).
The lesson of Spanish flu is that, if left unchecked, a virus can lead to a catastrophe. Mass movements of people during the first world war in close quarters and with regular rotations from the rear, to the front and regular leave, meant the virus spread incredibly quickly. The SARS epidemic shows what can be achieved when intense quarantine procedures are put in place. Unfortunately, in the case of the current outbreak, the mass movement of people near the outbreak location (as occurs during Lunar New Year) and the ease of travel to other countries via plane, coupled with the long incubation period means the virus has spread far and fast.
The extreme quarantine measures used in China are appropriate and sensible. By effectively shutting the country down for two weeks the spread can be halted and the worst impact (which can take >100 days to occur) can be avoided.
In contrast, in London people use public transport twice daily for up to 3 hours, no one wears protective masks when ill and most refuse to take sick leave. There is a single entry point for the UK health service (famous for cramped waiting rooms), the general practitioner (GP), ensuring that the sickest people are brought together with the most vulnerable.
Understanding the situation is important and combatting misinformation even more so. Social media is (actually) useful here. This thread combines some valuable scientific insights. Below are are some resources that can help to dig a little deeper:
Resources for understanding the spread:
Understand the genetics:
Developing vaccines/detection or other intervention:
If you have come upon a recommended resource or we have made an error here please reach out on social media: @opencelllondon and tell us!