What we do (and don't) know about the coronavirus | David Heymann
TED Talks Daily
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According to public health expert David Heymann, who led the global response to the SARS outbreak in 2003, Corona Virus (Covid-19) looks like a very mild disease, like a common cold, in the majority of people. Elderly and those with a compromised immune system are the ones that we have to make sure are taken care of in the hospitals.

The general population does not appear to be at a great risk. In industrialized countries the very elderly, ones with other diseases, are the ones at risk. In the developing countries, elderly that do not have access to a good hospital are at a greater risk.

Elderly have a weaker immune system that makes it harder for the body to fight this virus. At the same time, layer with a risk of co-infection with a bacteria, pneumonia is what makes this virus difficult for the older people.

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta keeps track and has updates on a regular basis on its website.

Also, the World Health Organization in Geneva, which is coordinating many of the activities going on internationally, also has a website with daily updates.

This type of problem happens with every new virus, like SARS. Humans have never been exposed to Covid-19 virus before and it is unclear how well the immune system can handle it.

Airports or land borders cannot prevent entry of the virus, and checking temperatures at the border is not going to help to prevent its distribution.

However, borders are important because by identifying infected, or potentially infected people, we can assist them both medically, and by giving them an understanding of what they are facing.

Vaccine first has to be developed, studied for safety and effectiveness in animals, and then go to human studies. It will be at least a year until we have a vaccine available.

A major problem in the world today is how we look at the outbreaks in developing countries as something that we need to go and stop. Instead, we should want to see a world where every country can do its best to stop its own outbreaks.

What we've done is invested in many mechanisms globally, which can provide support to other countries to go and help stop outbreaks, but we have not yet invested enough and helping countries develop their core capacity and public health to do that.



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