Saturday, January 25, 2020

Laurie Garrett ("The Coming Plague", 1994) discusses control of the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic

Laurie Garrett has a disturbing article on CNN, “What it will take to stop the Wutan virus” , link
Her assessment of this development is more guarded than most, even as China has locked down about 35 million people in the middle of the company right in the middle of the Chinese New Year.

She also had a lot of experience covering SARS 2002-2003.

So far, as of this writing, it seems to me that fatality rate is low and that most people would recover on the own. With very few exceptions, most fatalities are in older men with other diseases, including diabetes.   You could almost see an epidemic like this as a biological purge, an exercise of survival of the fittest.  It sounds horrible, but that’s how nature works.  As a civilization, we have a responsibility for vulnerable members, but where does it end?

It sounds as though the male patient near Seattle has recovered and should be released.  Probably true in Texas.  Not sure in Chicago.  The US will evacuate about 1000 Americans from Wuhan. 

At some point, it would be mathematically impossible to stop a virus like this without shutting down all the urban centers on the planet.  What if you live in a high-rise condo or apartment building in the US and one person is diagnosed, but recovers normally without incident.  Do you have to watch everyone else?  That is what I would wonder about her article.

Laurie Garrett is author of “Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World out of Balance” (1994, Penguin, formerly from Farrar, Giroux and Strauss, 768 pages), previously with a quick review here.

I recall graphic discussions of cases of Marburg and Ebola virus.  One man recovered naturally but lost all of his hair (permanently?)  Ebola is in the Congo now.  I think it was cleared from Sierra Leone by 2015.  Stanford engineering and pre-med student Jack Andraka spent two summer sessions working in Sierra Leone on a Truman scholarship and says (to me) he was not offered the new vaccine.  Garrett will say, he should have gotten it.  I agree. 

There was a quick review of Robert Preston’s “The Hot Zone” here Dec. 11, 2009.

When I was traveling in California in February 2002, I had a corona-like illness.  I had two evenings (several days apart) of high fever and extremely dry cough, and felt better in between. (Not much nasal symptoms.)  I took aspirin (which would get rid of the fever) and Mucinex, non-prescription (rather expensive), from a pharmacy. Was this SARS?  I had the flu shots as usual that fall preceding.  The cough had started very suddenly and was unusually dry.  Once it became productive, I felt much better and energy came back.  But a deep, rattly productive cough lasted about six weeks to two months.  This was unusual for me.  

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