As of March 1st, a team of researchers at Cedars Sinai estimated that up to almost 10,000 people in the US had the Covid-19 corona virus. That number far exceeded published government estimates at the time, and the researchers felt that their estimate was itself conservative.(1)
Think about it. Most people who get the virus don’t show symptoms for anywhere from 2 to 28 days, and they’re contagious during that time. Some never show symptoms. For most, the symptoms are sniffles and a slight fever. How do you take act to prevent spread of the disease when you don’t know you have it?
More importantly, think about the number of people you are around during the course of a day. Include co-workers, neighbors, food servers, gas station attendants, people with whom you might share a bus, train or plane, people with whom you might share a sidewalk, people with whom you might share a handrail or door or who might use a table the same table at a coffee shop after you leave.
Now consider that Covid-19 may be around for another 12 months, and that there will be other viruses after it. This is the new normal, just like the flu.
In this environment, don’t the containment efforts seem rather silly?
There is an important caveat. If this virus mutates into something more lethal, then all bets are off.
Viruses do mutate. SARS-CoV-2 is the underlying infection that causes Covid-19, and there are two variants of that already, the L strain which is the more dangerous, and the S strain.(2) Basically, the coronavirus has already undergone mutation. Will it do it again, and with what effect? That’s what we don’t know.
To show how fast information on the coronavirus is changing:
- On February 14th, an article from the Philippines reported no signs of mutation of the virus.
- On March 4th, researchers in China identified that mutation had already occurred.
It’s important to look at dates of publication to make sure you are seeing the latest information.
- Dalin Li, Jun Lv, Gregory Botwin, Jonathan Braun, Weihua Cao, Liming Li, Dermot P.B. McGovern. Estimating the scale of COVID-19 Epidemic in the United States: Simulations Based on Air Traffic directly from Wuhan, China. submitted to MedRxiv, 2020 DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.06.20031880