Coronavirus: How dangerous a threat?

Note: AFAIK, the following post does not run afoul of the (very sour) GRAPES rule, but we shall see:

I don’t want to belittle the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak, but the world’s reaction to it, IMO, is way over the top. I couldn’t believe that a golf tournament was cancelled in Singapore (where about one in one hundred thousand people are infected, and no one has died), or that there even had to be an announcement that the Olympics in Japan (less than one in a million, one death) were not going to be cancelled.

Here are some easily found facts that ought to alleviate the sense of panic:
  • Almost 99% of the infections, and all but five of the deaths, have occurred in China, and in China, more than 80% of the infections and 95% of the deaths are in one province, Hubei, where the epidemic began.
  • Even in Hubei, only about one person in a thousand has become infected.
  • Only about 2 – 2.5% of those infected have died so far, though the number rises to 13% when expressed as a fraction of resolved cases (deaths + recoveries). China reports that 80% of the deaths have been people over 60, 75% of whom had pre-existing health problems. About 70% of those infected have been males. Less than 20% of those infected have recovered so far, but this is largely because the rapid growth of infections has meant that most infected people at any one time have become so very recently.. In any case, of those not recovered, 80% have been classified as having mild symptoms, while the other 20% have more serious symptoms. Altogether, more than 80% of those infected have either recovered or have mild symptoms. Again, we will almost see an increase in this % when the growth of new infections slows or stabilizes.
  • That growth rate has in fact begun to decrease. About three weeks ago, the number of infected individuals increased about 40% per day, so that total infections doubled about every other day. Now it’s increasing less than 10% or even 5% per day, discounting one large spike that was attributed to the use of better or more rapid diagnosis, particularly CT scans.
  • Outside of China, infections are also increasing at about 10% per day. Confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus are few, though. Most of the cases appear to be people who became infected in China, then travelled to another country. Based on current data, transmission tends to occur between people who are intimate with each other, rather than among strangers in public, say. Also, while transmission may occur from people who show no symptoms, it’s thought to occur more readily from symptomatic people, who are more likely to be kept out of circulation.
  • For comparison, more than 25 million people have contracted the flu in the U.S. alone this season—about 350 times as many cases as coronavirus—and there have been almost ten times as many deaths as those from the coronavirus. That, again, is just in the U.S. Worldwide, as many as half a million or more people may die from complications from the flu in a single season.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)

The virus is obviously a very serious problem in China, with about half the population now under some kind of movement restriction, and what happens in China has great effect on what happens in the rest of the world, but the virus does not seem to pose a world-wide threat to health. The worst prognosis I’ve heard so far is that it may become permanently established, so that it becomes another version of an annual communicable disease. We have vaccines to the flu, whereas we don’t have a vaccine to the coronavirus, and probably won’t have one ready for humans for another year at the least.

But China's response, delayed as it has been, has kept most people with the coronavirus from traveling out of the country, and as long as infected individuals are few in other countries, it seems unlikely that we will see a rapid increase in cases there. Various studies have estimated that the average infected individual transmits the virus to 2-4 other people, which means the transmission rate needs to be reduced by about 50-75% for the number of infections to stop increasing. Based on current indications that transmissions are relatively rare in countries outside of China, this goal may already have been reached. The question is how much of the increase may be occurring as a result of travel.
 
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It's clearly more serious than the flu based on current data, but the flu is more pervasive so it's hard to say where it will fall out.


You mentioned vaccines. As you say, there is currently no vaccine for this particular coronavirus, but it's also worthwhile pointing out that there is no vaccine for MERs or SARs either and the development of vaccines for coronaviruses is very difficult. I can't actually think of any vaccines, either in human or veterinary medicine (where coronavirus infections are more pervasive. My knowledge in veterinary medicine isn't great so there may be some). SARS killed around 10% of infected people but around 50% of over 60s. MERs is even worse, killing about 40% of total people infected. These numbers are based on known infections and due to the low number of confirmed infections for MERs it's hard to say if this is a truly representative mortality rate, but it's enough to worry people. SARs was initially under-reported and this has been discussed as a reason for a much wider spread of the disease than may have been necessary. I seem to remember a WHO team was even forbidden from visiting Guangdong province

I think that this is likely what is driving the more extreme reactions in this case.
 
I think this is a very interesting topic, it's being discussed on many different sports forums being athletes tend to travel quite a bit. (There is a lot of discussion going on on running forums, for example, people are wondering whether various upcoming marathons will still take place.)

The latest from the BBC is this article Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk, I'm just kinda sitting out on forming an opinion because I don't think we know quite enough about this virus yet. I think reasonable precautions should be taken, but not to the point of panicking.
 
The mortality rate for Bird Flu is about 50 % but some experts say that could be on the high side while for Coronavirus it's around 2%. Thankfully human to human infection for Bird Flu is rare, it's mostly caused by eating contaminated meat or coming into contact with bird excretions.

The high infection rates on the cruise ships is probably due to people being locked in together with someone yet to show symptoms or maybe less than stringent isolation protocols, Some of the health workers have also caught it.
 
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So what happened here - Nomad's post considered a hoax or something?
I didn't see his post but I don't like to see posts deleted or censored just because they are controversial or have issues with government press releases. I think posts should only be deleted in extreme circumstances. Otherwise what is the point of taking part in a forum at all ?
 
I'm having a bit of dejavoo with the swine flu scare of a dozen years ago.

This from the OP:
For comparison, more than 25 million people have contracted the flu in the U.S. alone this season—about 350 times as many cases as coronavirus—and there have been almost ten times as many deaths as those from the coronavirus. That, again, is just in the U.S. Worldwide, as many as half a million or more people may die from complications from the flu in a single season.
 
Mod hat on:

I'm wondering as well...

I only skimmed over it, but I didn't think there was anything inflammatory in it. I mean, I do recall Nomad had posted he doesn't trust the Chinese government to report things honestly, I can't really disagree with that sentiment.
The mortality rate for Bird Flu is about 50 % but some experts say that could be on the high side while for Coronavirus it's around 2%. Thankfully human to human infection for Bird Flu is rare, it's mostly caused by eating contaminated meat or coming into contact with bird excretions.

The high infection rates on the cruise ships is probably due to people being locked in together with someone yet to show symptoms or maybe less than stringent isolation protocols, Some of the health workers have also caught it.
I didn't see his post but I don't like to see posts deleted or censored just because they are controversial or have issues with government press releases. I think posts should only be deleted in extreme circumstances. Otherwise what is the point of taking part in a forum at all ?

From the forum rules:

  • G.R.A.P.E.S. (guns, religion, abortion, politics, economics, sexuality) subject matter discussion is prohibited, except where the topics are expressly related to core subject coverage and is initiated by staff. The moderation team reserves the right to remove any such posts and take action as warranted
Specifically, if fell foul of the no politics part of this rule.
 
There are two key parameters for viruses that impact their effect on populations, the transmission and mortality rates. The transmission rate for COVID-19, the official name for the new coronavirus, seems to be considerably higher than that for SARS or MERS, while the mortality rate, as noted by others, is much lower. Also, the mortality rate may be overestimated, since the number of infections is likely underestimated.

The cruise ship situation IMO, and in the view of several experts, was handled very poorly. Latest I have heard is that > 600 people have tested positive, > 15% of the total aboard. As I noted in the OP, about one in a thousand have been infected in Hubei province, the epicenter. In fact, there are more cases on the Diamond Princess than in all the countries in the world outside of China combined. I would have evacuated everyone to quarantine sites on land immediately, as soon as a confirmed case on board was observed. As it was, keeping the people on the ship resulted in far more infections, though it did prevent the infections from spreading on land.

The spread of infections continues to slow in China, based at least on reported new cases--only about a 0.5% increase the last day. A few weeks ago, some epidemiologists were predicting that the pandemic would peak with 50,000 new cases a day. It hasn't approached anything remotely close to that.

i think in some respects, the world is lucky this began in China. Though they were slow to recognize the problem, once they did, the authoritarian government clamped down hard on the people, with restrictions i don't think you'd see in Western democracies.
 
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Specifically, if fell foul of the no politics part of this rule.
Understood.

So, moving right along...

The upcoming Tokyo marathon had been canceled for the non-elites (only the elite will be permitted to compete), this means over 35,000 amateur runners will have to stay home. It's understandable, but it also sucks with all the training that went into running the marathon (not to mention the cost of flight and hotel)... why would the elite even care to show up? I'm sure they'll get an appearance fee, but if there is any remote risk of exposure at the airport or on the plane I wouldn't chance it. I would just save my energy for the upcoming Olympics.
 
if there is any remote risk of exposure at the airport or on the plane
Why would there be? The risk of exposure to the virus on a plane to Tokyo is no greater than the risk of exposure on any plane going anywhere. Same with airports. Granted, the risk is greater when you are with large numbers of people in a confined space, but it's hard to avoid doing that some of the time. You might as well not go to a movie, or concert, or the supermarket. In fact, you might as well stay in your home 24/7, and order food delivered--and wear a mask when receiving it.

Again, less than one in a million people in Japan are infected, and only one death so far. Your risks of dying in an auto accident are probably greater, particularly as a bike rider getting hit by a car. In California, there are about 120 cyclist deaths annually, or about 3 per million. That is considerably higher than the death rate from coronavirus anywhere outside of China, indeed, outside of Hubei. The lifetime risk of dying in an auto accident in the U.S. is roughly 1 in 600, which is far greater than the number of people who are likely to die from coronavirus in Hubei.

Imagine if the Olympics were in Beijing. Would they cancel it? Probably. What then? Would they plan on holding it next year, or would all the time, effort and money that went into preparing for it go down the drain?
 
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Why would there be? The risk of exposure to the virus on a plane to Tokyo is no greater than the risk of exposure on any plane going anywhere. Same with airports. Granted, the risk is greater when you are with large numbers of people in a confined space, but it's hard to avoid doing that some of the time. You might as well not go to a movie, or concert, or the supermarket. In fact, you might as well stay in your home 24/7, and order food delivered--and wear a mask when receiving it.

Again, less than one in a million people in Japan are infected, and only one death so far. Your risks of dying in an auto accident are probably greater, particularly as a bike rider getting hit by a car. In California, there are about 120 cyclist deaths annually, or about 3 per million. That is considerably higher than the death rate from coronavirus anywhere outside of China, indeed, outside of Hubei. The lifetime risk of dying in an auto accident in the U.S. is roughly 1 in 600, which is far greater than the number of people who are likely to die from coronavirus in Hubei.

Imagine if the Olympics were in Beijing. Would they cancel it? Probably. What then? Would they plan on holding it next year, or would all the time, effort and money that went into preparing for it go down the drain?
I'm sure your post is largely rhetorical, but my point in regard to the Tokyo marathon would be - should the virus somehow know whether you're an elite or non-elite athlete?
 
I'm sure your post is largely rhetorical, but my point in regard to the Tokyo marathon would be - should the virus somehow know whether you're an elite or non-elite athlete?
Ah, sorry, then, I missed that. So your point is that if it isn't safe for the non-elite, it shouldn't be safe for the elite, either? True enough, but if the risk is equal for the two groups, and the elite group has more to gain from racing than the non-elite group, then maybe they felt the risk was worth it. I think your reasoning, like most people's, is that if it's not safe to go, it isn't safe to go, period, but of course athletes seeking glory don't necessarily think that way. They take risks that most of us wouldn't take.

Just as people were willing to cancel a golf tournament--which really isn't that big a deal--but not the Olympics, which of course is a very big deal. As I've made clear, i didn't think even a golf tournament had to be cancelled, but it makes more sense to cancel that than the Olympics, if you're weighing benefits vs. risks.

Maybe this becomes a test of that old study--which supposedly has been debunked, but is still talked about a lot--which found that a large % of athletes would undergo a treatment that would kill them in a few years, if it gave them a performance enhancement that enabled them to win a Gold Medal. Regardless of how true that is, I have no doubt that many athletes, facing a once-in-a-lifetime shot at Olympic glory, would travel even to Hubei, hypothetically, to perform. Whereas spectators wouldn't, because what they had to gain wouldn't be worth the risk.
 
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Why would there be? The risk of exposure to the virus on a plane to Tokyo is no greater than the risk of exposure on any plane going anywhere. Same with airports. Granted, the risk is greater when you are with large numbers of people in a confined space, but it's hard to avoid doing that some of the time. You might as well not go to a movie, or concert, or the supermarket. In fact, you might as well stay in your home 24/7, and order food delivered--and wear a mask when receiving it.

Again, less than one in a million people in Japan are infected, and only one death so far. Your risks of dying in an auto accident are probably greater, particularly as a bike rider getting hit by a car. In California, there are about 120 cyclist deaths annually, or about 3 per million. That is considerably higher than the death rate from coronavirus anywhere outside of China, indeed, outside of Hubei. The lifetime risk of dying in an auto accident in the U.S. is roughly 1 in 600, which is far greater than the number of people who are likely to die from coronavirus in Hubei.

Imagine if the Olympics were in Beijing. Would they cancel it? Probably. What then? Would they plan on holding it next year, or would all the time, effort and money that went into preparing for it go down the drain?

At this time, they'd still have the option of finding a different place to hold. 4 years ago with the worries over Brazil being able to complete all the stadiums and such needed there was talk of moving it even later than this. The most common thought was seeing if Los Angeles had enough time to pull off hosting it in just a handful of months. Most people seemed to think LA could host an Olympics on short notice mostly because they already have all the infrastructure for it to begin with. (On a side note to this, LA is only refurbishing several buildings/stadiums for the 2028 Olympics and have no plans on building anything for it, thus proving they do currently have everything in place needed for an Olympics).
As proven in 2016 they don't really want to move the Olympics to begin with.
 
In Italy they totally lost the control of the situation, they kept saying the virus wasn't there until yesterday but then there was a death yesterday evening and so they started to test people in the hospitals and cases are popping up at dozens but they were treated like normal influenza and no one was in quarantine so we'll likely see hundreds of new cases in the coming days.
 
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Some of the Australian victims that were quarantined on one of the ships for 14 days are now showing symptoms as they arrive home in Australia which makes the medical authorities think that the current quarantine period may not be long enough, The only other possibility is that quarantine on the ship was breached which seems to be possible as well. Fortunately Australian victims are being isolated for longer when they arrive back in the country. Poorer countries outside of Asia are now showing signs which is where the real issues will have to be addressed.

Surprised that the Olympics are not being postponed for a year.
 
The bottom line is that the number of new cases in China has dropped to less than 1% of the total for several days in a row now. While there has been a big surge in cases in S. Korea and Italy, still nothing remotely comparable to China. If other countries could slow the rate of increase to what it is in China, the pandemic would be over.
 
Five regions (Piemonte, Lombardia, Emilia, Veneto and Friuli) from today have shut down schools, industries, events with the towns that have cases totally locked but independent experts says it's too late, still yesterday there were people that left the most affected one (Codogno) and medical authorities have no idea on where the virus come from and cases are spreading like oil on the water.
 
Five regions (Piemonte, Lombardia, Emilia, Veneto and Friuli) from today have shut down schools, industries, events with the towns that have cases totally locked but independent experts says it's too late, still yesterday there were people that left the most affected one (Codogno) and medical authorities have no idea on where the virus come from and cases are spreading like oil on the water.
Yikes, that doesn't sound very good at all.

Not that I would wish harm on anyone, but from a scientific standpoint it will be interesting to see how the virus affects Europeans. One can only wait and see, and hope for the best.
 
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S. Korea and Italy are the only countries outside of China where new cases are appearing at a high rate, and in the case of S. Korea, about half the cases occurred as a result of some religious service. Iran could join that list, but still has reported relatively few cases.

The number of cases in China has increased by less than 10% in the past week, with only half a dozen new cases in the past day or so. The number of cases increased nearly 90% in the previous week, not counting the spike when better diagnosis was begun. They increased four times in the week before that.
 
S. Korea and Italy are the only countries outside of China where new cases are appearing at a high rate, and in the case of S. Korea, about half the cases occurred as a result of some religious service. Iran could join that list, but still has reported relatively few cases.

The number of cases in China has increased by less than 10% in the past week, with only half a dozen new cases in the past day or so. The number of cases increased nearly 90% in the previous week, not counting the spike when better diagnosis was begun. They increased four times in the week before that.
Right, but you do realize how small a place Europe is and how much people tend to travel to and fro from country to country?

I think we're still on the same side, Mi, so please understand I'm not trying to stir up some kind of animosity between us.
 
Right, but you do realize how small a place Europe is and how much people tend to travel to and fro from country to country?
Yes, as I said before, China has a advantage in that they can institute restrictions that people in democracies most likely would resist. Italy's response, though, suggests that some countries or parts of countries may start coming down hard on travel.

I think we're still on the same side, Mi, so please understand I'm not trying to stir up some kind of animosity between us.
Oh, none taken. I've never felt the slightest animosity towards you except when you admitted you were hiding dead bodies in the attic. I just hope those bodies don't include people who died from the coronavirus, though--or if they do, you at least report them to the authorities (anonymously, if you must), so they can update the statistics. And if you have any bats in the attic, keep them away from the dead bodies--bats are how this whole thing apparently started. Not easy to restrict their travel.
 
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ANSA just announced the 7th death in Italy, I think a total lockdown of at least Lombardia is becoming very likely but they are really slow to react, only today they have finally put the army to control the accesses at the locked towns.
 
ANSA just announced the 7th death in Italy, I think a total lockdown of at least Lombardia is becoming very likely but they are really slow to react, only today they have finally put the army to control the accesses at the locked towns.
Let's be real, the Virus has probably been in Italy for a few weeks. It's important to protect the sick and the elderly, but going into total panic mode won't help. South Tyrol has closed the University (a gloryfied highschool) and all day-care centers for at least one week without a single confirmed chase.
I'll probably travel to Innsbruck asap, not being able to get to work next week because of a total lockdown/full blown paranoia would suck.
 

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