The Novel Coronavirus of 2019, now officially named COVID-19, has arrived on US soil with more than a dozen confirmed cases that span the country. Although the virus will only cause mild respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms for most healthy people, it has the potential to be fatal for less resilient individuals. Worldwide, COVID-19 is confirmed to have been responsible for the deaths of nearly 1500 people at the time of writing. This particular coronavirus, one of many viruses in the same taxonomic family, is previously unknown to science so let’s talk about the facts.
What we know:
- The virus is especially deadly for the elderly, young children, and people with chronic medical problems.
- There is no specific treatment or medication for the illness. Providing supportive care to your body seems to be the only treatment as of now.
- The virus’ genome has been sequenced and researchers are studying the data to learn more about the virus and any potential future treatment options.
- No vaccine currently exists, however, diligent hand washing and avoiding large crowds of people are the best ways to prevent becoming ill. Also, don’t travel to China.
- Face masks won’t protect you. In fact, the heightened demand for surgical masks is causing a supply shortage for agencies, such as health departments. Don’t bother buying surgical masks to protect you from COVID-19.
- The Communist Party of China (CPC) will make the problem worse (more on that later).
What we don’t know:
- We don’t know all of the precise mechanisms or vectors by which the virus can be transmitted. Research is underway to determine if the virus can be transmitted from a mother to a baby during childbirth. As of now, we also do not know if the virus can be transmitted sexually or via sewage waste (like other coronaviridae, such as SARS, which can be transmitted via exposure to contaminated sewage). The virus seems to have originated from a fish market, so the ability of the virus to be transmitted across multiple animal species remains a possibility (think Swine flu, Bird flu, etc).
- We don’t know the true infection prevalence numbers because the communist regime has been exceptionally opaque in its response to the outbreak. The CPC has also recently changed the methodology by which it reports the disease, further muddying our picture of the virus’ prevalence.
What happens next:
- The situation will get worse before it gets better. Prepare to see increasing numbers of COVID-19 in the US and internationally before the virus subsides. People with mild symptoms may not realize they are infected and may unknowingly pass the virus on to others, exponentially spreading the virus.
- Case studies will be published in the future that will follow folks who are affected to investigate any long-term effects of the virus.
- COVID-19 will never truly “go away”. Remember MERS, SARS, and Ebola? Zika, West Nile, and H1N1? Bubonic plague, Leprosy, and Smallpox? Although their numbers have dwindled they have not disappeared and neither will COVID-19.
Sadly, this will not be the last new and horrible disease to reach epidemic, or even pandemic, proportions. As long as new regions of the globe are explored and global travel becomes accessible to more and more people, as new plant and animal species are discovered, as permafrost melts away, as super-antibiotic-resistant microbes evolve, as genetically-mutated germs are created in laboratories for the purpose of research, and as the world becomes more and more densely populated, previously-unknown-to-science infections will continue to happen and sometimes they will grow into horrible waves of global tragedy. We share this planet with billions of species of microbial life forms, most of which are still undiscovered, so this current epidemic, as well as the next one, are inevitable.
As for China, social, cultural, and political norms will only make this outbreak more tricky to manage on a global level. In communist nations, control and order are the prime directives. The simple fact that an epidemic has developed has prompted the CPC to fire local officials and arrest journalists who have reported on the outbreak. If the ruling party had no hesitations in murdering its own civilians during the Hong Kong riots earlier this year, than it will have no hesitations in murdering local officials, journalists, and/or outspoken healthcare workers who have brought shame, in their perspective, to the nation. Communist rulers exert control via fear, and right now it seems the epidemic is out of control in China. Expect the CPC to try to ‘save face’ at any cost until this virus fades from the headlines.
As this story develops and more facts become available we will keep you updated.
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