Essay- Five Months of WWIII

May 14, 2020

Credit publicity photo

Five Months of WWIII

By Steve Plotkin

Welcome to almost 5-months of WWIII Bioterrorism.  We had many casualties this week.

Isn't it ironic that our muted 75th celebration of WWII VE day would be held while our own war is well underway? 

But our war is different.  There are no Geneva rules of war, nor accepted rules of engagement or prohibition on use of biological weapons.

Although the battle of NYC has gone badly, America stands 5th in the highest per-capita death rate.  Yet a rolling cease-fire and fragile truce is emerging in many quarters.

COVID-19 is much more than a public health or economic nightmare. Society has been transformed all over the world and triggering rapid political change, some of which may go unnoticed.  This may be the last time the world is connected in such a way, against a common foe.  Something never experienced in modern times, until now.

Admiration

Secretly I admire and respect the virus as a mad stealthy genius with a delay fuse. 

While not favoring any political party, or geography, the invisible threat virus does find favor in meat packing plants, provides 1/3 of deaths from long-term care homes, impacts medical workers, older adults, and those with pre-conditions.  More recently it has appeared with an eerie effect on kids.

Its ability to spread as a persistent threat represents world-class engineering.

The virus is so clever, that in worst cases, it fools the human system to self-destruct via a Cytokine Storm.

The virus even has its own clock.  Coronatime has no hours or days, everything blends into a blur.  Every day is Tuesday or Saturday, and we generally are unaware of the actual time.

Facts

Believe the facts, beware of the myths and political hype.

While the world has high interest in drug trials and immunology, we all breathlessly await news of either a treatment or vaccine, without promise of instant gratification.

Good data is our weapon of choice, our only weapon.

Fortunately, reliable American statistics are now freely flowing, as is research.

However, "We're not reopening based on science," said Dr.

Thom Frieden.  He says "We're reopening based on politics, ideology and public pressure. And I think it's going to end badly."

So, How Does Covid-19 spread?

Let us clear up the vector question - how the virus spreads so easily in the real world?

In an excellent CDC-published study about an outbreak in a Korean office building in early March, the key findings

were:

A.            The virus did not spread throughout the building

through the HVAC systems.

B.            There has been little spread in common areas of the

building (elevators and lobby).

C.            Nearly everyone who contracted it sat immediately

next to each other in the same room for a prolonged period.

The CDC defines "prolonged" as 30 minutes or more.  This is the BIG vector.

The virus appears to spread nearly entirely through one

path: directly from person-to-person, over short distances, a few feet, and only when there is prolonged contact.

It spreads a bit farther when there is moving air blowing strongly past one person toward another. 

D.            Touching contaminated surfaces does not seem to be a

BIG vector.  While we use hand washing regularly to avoid transmission through touch, and we should, there is good news here.  So, while viruses last on surfaces, it doesn't seem to infect humans much that way, in practice.

So, beware of biology, and think like a virus, as we go forward.

This is Steve Plotkin