Essay: Coronovirus Has Many Sides

Mar 24, 2020


Complexities of the Virus

by Steve Plotkin

You have been feasting on endless news, regarding the coronavirus pandemic, mostly scary statistics.  But there are other sides, some good, some bad.

Just look at how fragile the greatest country in the world is.  In 11 weeks some

unsee able threat has neutered and rendered our civilization inert with amazing speed.   And we are still just mobilizing to fight WWIII.

Likewise, not many weeks ago, we could manage our lives as we see fit.  Now we are millions of slaves, shuttered in our own homes, practicing social distancing, afraid to go outside.   And nobody, that is nobody, is protesting restrictions that were previously unthinkable!   How un-American is that?

In a land of rugged individualism, the common good has crept ahead of individualism.

So, who are the heroes?  The public is the hero here, emphasizing the “WE” over the “I” and resurrecting a war-time spirit.

Seeking a silver lining, the entire scientific community has been wrapped around solutions to the pandemic crisis.

Unfortunately, we really have few tools in our tool chest.    History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics, like the 1918 Spanish Flu.   Even Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed.

There have been a number of phases in our discovery process.

The first phase was Containment, and it is certain that the efforts to contain the coronavirus have failed.  This initial phase was supposed to rapidly identify anyone who had the virus, and to quickly get them to an infectious disease unit, but with limited test kits.

That Led to a Delay Phase and we simply didn’t know where we were.  How many have it, how old, how young.  Without the test kits we were actually blind. Our federal government’s lackluster early response was finally overcome with foreign evidence and We The people protesting. The Research phase shows that the coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, and it’s a lung eater, subject to mutations.  In fact, it has already mutated, so we now have strain s, and strain L,   doubling the challenge to develop a vaccine.
The Mitigation phase was triggered once the disease was widespread and unable to be stopped or even slowed.  The emphasis is to save as many lives as possible while maintaining public order and public services.  We speak of flattening the curve.

Money is pouring into research, but a real vaccine may be a while, and only of use in any potential second wave of the virus in winter 2020-21.

Here is an Uplifting update

Although we haven’t reached our peak, it seems that China and Korea have already arrived there.

So a bright side can be visualized.  Based on the Chinese and Korean experience, a defined curve has been developed which indicates the possible end points of community infection.

With statistics finally flowing, initial studies reveal the true nature of the pandemic.  One computer model simulating the spread of the virus claims that f0r every confirmed case of COVID-19, there were six undetected cases, which were responsible for the majority of the disease spread prior to a lockdown.

Based on this experience, it has been thought that the U.S infection peak is 45 days away, around the beginning of May.  But that’s only the peak.

For us, the coronavirus epidemic is only starting and could last for three to four months.

Efforts to Flatten the curve, while it lessens demands on hospitals, it also extends the threat period, a mixed blessing.  The tail of the curve has an unforeseen life of its own.

It is said that 98% of the people who get infected will recover.  Of the total US population that might include 100 million folks or so..

By the Way - The only professions to gain from our national sequestering predicament will be divorce attorneys and baby doctors, although we won’t need them for 9 months or so.

This is Steve Plotkin