Harvard Epidemiologist Says Coronavirus Outbreak is Bad—”Thermonuclear Pandemic Level Bad”

(TMU) — Harvard public health scientist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding is describing the current coronavirus outbreak as bad—”thermonuclear pandemic level bad.”

The virus, now known as 2019-nCoV, has killed 82 people, infected almost 3,000 more, and spread to multiple other countries—and Dr. Feigl-Ding has been tweeting about it non-stop since last week. It is the third time since 2003 that a coronavirus has made the jump from animals to humans.

Feigl-Ding, who holds a dual doctorate in epidemiology and nutrition, began by expressing that he is “deeply worried” about the outbreak and indicated that it may be “silently contagious“—a fact that has now been confirmed by China’s National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei.

On Friday, Dr. Feigl-Ding prefaced his calculations that the reproductive value (R0) of the virus is 3.8 by saying “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD.” Others have estimated that the R0 is 3.3 and 2.6 while the World Health Organization (WHO) has put the R0 somewhere between 1.4 and 2.5

The R0 value, which represents the number of secondary cases which result from every new infection, is the key variable when determining how infectious a virus truly is.

Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.

Dr. Feigl-Ding went on to describe the outbreak as “thermonuclear pandemic level bad… I’m not exaggerating.”

A paper referenced by Dr. Feigl-Ding and uploaded to medRxiv estimates the R0 value “to be between 3.6 and 4.0, indicating that 72-75% of transmissions must be prevented by control measures for infections to stop increasing.” The non-peer reviewed article goes on to explain:

Our model suggests that travel restrictions from and to Wuhan city are unlikely to be effective in halting transmission across China; with a 99 percent effective reduction in travel, the size of the epidemic outside of Wuhan may only be reduced by 24.9 percent.”

Eric Toner, Senior Scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and Senior Scientist in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, also expressed during an interview with CNBC that China’s efforts to contain the outbreak are “unlikely to be effective.

Researchers in the U.K. have estimated that only 5.1 percent of cases in Wuhan have been identified.

As rumors and misinformation about the virus, the outbreak, the true conditions in China, and even simulations that took place months prior, Dr. has come under harsh criticism for his tweets. However, the epidemiologist contends he is not “trying to incite fear.

It is important to remember that the above estimates are just that and are based on assumptions amidst a rapidly changing situation that could continue to change in various and even unknown ways without a moment’s notice. While it currently appears that 2019-nCoV is far more infectious than previously known coronaviruses and may be on par with the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed 20 to 50 million people around the world, it may switch gears at any time. However, the R0 value for the Spanish flu was a mere 1.8, so even if the estimates putting 2019-nCoV’s R0 value closer to 2.8 are more accurate, it’s “still super bad.”

On Monday, Feigl-Ding touched on and attempted to clarify the conflicting R0 estimates:

In Dr. Feigl-Ding’s latest tweets he calls on the WHO to “finally” declare an emergency.

UPDATE 4:55pm EST — On Monday, the WHO “admitted an error” in assessing the risk of the coronavirus. A Sunday night situation report listed the risk as “very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level,according to the AFP. The WHO admits that the agency “incorrectly” listed the global risk as moderate in reports on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com