Coronavirus: Worst-ever epidemic, says Harvard Prof Lipsitch

Massachusetts: The death toll due to Coronavirus reaches 2,000 but outside China the numbers remain a fraction of that.

Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and head of the School’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, talked to The Harvard Gazette about recent developments in the outbreak of the plague.

“We know that the spread is even greater than expected. It was likely then that it would spread more widely, but there was still hope for containment,” said the Gazette.

Singapore, which is really good at tracing cases, has found some cases that aren’t linked to previously known cases. This is really a global problem that’s not going to go away in a week or two.

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China has shown a decrease in relative to exponential growth. It is the success of control measures rather than the inability to count many cases, replied to the Gazette when asked about the daily increase in cases due to new transmission.

When asked whether hospitals and the medical establishment should start thinking about capacity-building now, Lipsitch said: ‘I think we should be prepared for the equivalent of a very, very bad flu season, or maybe the worst-ever flu season in modern times, since we’ve had ventilators and been able to provide intensive respiratory support. And it might not be real flu “season” because the annual flu season is already passing.’

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Wondering whether Coronavirus will go in summer away like SARS, the professor said, I’m not at all convinced that SARS went away because of the warmer weather. I think it went away because people got it under control in May and June. But there is some evidence — and we’re working on quantifying it — that coronaviruses do transmit less efficiently in the warmer weather. So it’s possible that we will get some help from that, but I don’t think that will solve the problem, as evidenced by the fact that there’s transmission in Singapore, on the equator.

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