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

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



Coronavirus Outbreak Thermonuclear Pandemic Level Bad
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(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.

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 |

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Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People



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The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.

Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.

Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.

Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.

Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.

“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”

However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.

In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”

“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

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Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say



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With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.

According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.

The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.

The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.

While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.

Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.

Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced

However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.

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Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact



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Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.

And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.

Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.

Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.

Death Toll, by Percent of Population

In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.

Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.

The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.

Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.

History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning

While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.

In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.

What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?

Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics

Republished from ZH with permission.

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