Countering Lies and Stupidity Regarding Coronavirus Pandemic
March 12, 2020 (EIRNS)—Many of the things said about the coronavirus pandemic are incorrect. Here are responses to several of the foolish concepts that are commonly expressed:
• But the flu kills more people every year! The coronavirus is new. Its spread has only begun. In the first weeks of the Spanish Flu of 1918, pundits could have said the same thing—at that point, it had killed fewer people than the seasonal flu. The coronavirus is approximately ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu.
• We just need to close our borders. At this point, the coronavirus is inside the United States. International travel restrictions can be sensible, but not in a qualitatively different way than internal travel restrictions. Closing international borders without instituting social distancing, shutting down mass transit, closing schools, etc., is ineffective.
• China’s cover-up at the beginning of the outbreak now threatens the world. Whatever missteps may have been made in the first couple of weeks (and hindsight is always 20/20), reports of unusual pneumonia in late December led to rapid action: On Dec. 30, 2019 Wuhan began actively looking for additional cases, based on symptomatology. The WHO was notified the next day. On Jan. 1, 2020 the Wuhan seafood market was closed. Only one week later, on Jan. 7, 2020 the virus was identified. On Jan. 12, its genetic sequence was shared with the world. On Jan. 13, test kits became available. On Jan. 23, Wuhan was shut down. On Jan. 24, an additional 15 cities were shut down. Travel and isolation policies were adopted for domestic travel. These measures were successful! By the time the WHO declared a “public health emergency of international concern” on Jan. 30, the number of new cases in Hubei had already reached its peak, and was beginning to decline.
• I’m young, so I don’t have to worry. Think about others. Although young people may be only mildly affected, or even asymptomatic, that does mean that they cannot spread the disease.
• We can’t do anything about it, anyhow. Let’s just “take it on the chin.” China’s successful, aggressive public health measures have turned the tide within that nation. Fewer than a dozen people die per day in Hubei, and only a handful in the rest of China. For example, the Jing-Jin-Ji region of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei has a total population of over 100 million, and the total number of confirmed cases is below 1,000, fewer than in the United States, and less than half the number of confirmed cases in Spain, with a population of under 50 million. These figures show that public health measures can be successful when aggressively implemented. Of the 80,000 known cases in China, there have been 3,000 deaths, 63,000 recoveries, and 14,000 ongoing cases.
• I might as well just catch it now to get it over with. The better job we do controlling the spread of the virus, the longer we have to develop cures and prevention. This will take months, but we can succeed, with a massive mobilization for the needed medical and social infrastructure.