The danger of the coronavirus as no one has described it to you, except the WHO (but you have not read it)

(To David Rossi)
03/03/20

"The COVID-19 virus is unique among human coronaviruses in its combination of high transmissibility, high mortality in some high-risk groups and the ability to cause enormous social and economic problems ... it must be assumed that the entire global population is sensitive to this virus". So has the WHO spoken these days (v.link). Let's understand better ...

How many of the readers suffer from hypertension and / or diabetes? One in three, as is normal in advanced countries. Well, the report of the recent WHO mission to China to study coronavirus is clear: the mortality rate for this group of patients at risk fluctuates between 8,4 and 9,2%.

Dear readers, it is useless to hide behind a finger: in the hypothesis that in the next 15-24 months, the time normally necessary to make the long-awaited vaccine available for many millions of people, a quarter of these "patients at risk" take COVID- 19 in advanced countries of Europe and North America1 and the WHO has been wrong twice, i.e. the death rate for these cases is 4%, we can expect something like 3,2 million deaths, which rise to almost 29 million in the worst case scenario. A similar argument could be made for 4-5% of people living with a diagnosis of cancer: between 1,5 and 3,6 million would lose their lives, leaving politicians and scientists the philosophical doubt whether they died from or from the coronavirus.

Yes, this new disease is cured. But in a percentage of cases ranging from 5 to 10%, depending on the countries and provinces, long periods of hospitalization, demanding and expensive treatments and a disproportionate use of staff and healthcare facilities are required. Still limiting ourselves to the "West", a long coronavirus epidemic affecting just 10% of the population over twelve months, with hospital care in intensive care for a month in 5% of cases, would require something like 144 million of hospitalization days, which at the current average cost for a European country2 it would amount to almost € 150 billion of total expenditure. Not to mention the costs for businesses, only for the hours of work lost by employees who are in any case absent for at least a month, for a total estimated, in our conservative scenario, in 2,9 billion hours, or at least 85 billion of euros in losses3. Just imagine that the epidemic reaches half the population, completely free of specific antibodies, to realize that the damage goes up a lot: almost 1.200 billion euros.

And all this not to mention the problem of the scarcity of medical and paramedical staff to face a colossal health emergency: let's expect to throw in the fray specialists and students of the last year of graduation, but also staff taken from less developed, private countries thus of human means to deal with the epidemic. Will we see African nurses and doctors welcomed with open arms in Italy and their local colleagues convinced by the richest Arab countries to the tune of millions of dollars? And how many victims will COVID-19 reap in the poorest countries? Already in Iran the mortality rate is three times normal!

This is the situation. It is useless to hide behind a finger.

Now, to paraphrase General Mikhail Kutuzov, winner of the Grande Armeé: the coronavirus is a torrent in full and as such we are unable to stop it. We can try to dry it. However, the whole world, starting from the five Great Powers who sit permanently on the Security Council and who have most of all to lose, make a decision no less devastating than abandoning Moscow to Bonaparte: for a period of not less than two weeks, the whole planet should adopt “China's brave approach - in the words of the WHO report - to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen " in order to change "The course of a rapidly growing and deadly epidemic", even at the cost of stopping production activities, closing schools and universities, suspending small and large sporting, political, religious and cultural events, to interrupt the coronavirus transmission chain.

Keep in mind that we are facing a “New highly contagious pathogen, which can spread rapidly, and must be considered capable of causing enormous damage to health, the economy and the entire human society in any environment. It is not SARS and it is not influence. Building scenarios and strategies only on the basis of known pathogens risks not exploiting all possible measures to slow down the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, reduce disease and save lives ".

It is urgent that the Great Powers understand that "True solidarity and collaboration between nations are essential to face the common threat posed by COVID-19". In the next two years, let's not forget, we must avoid the most deadly event in human history in terms of possible victims: let's put ourselves in the head that, defenseless as we are, we could assist - in a scenario extreme, but not unrealistic - to death from the consequences of the infection of no less than 200 million people in the next 24 months.

1 The countries of the Council of Europe and North America have around 950 million inhabitants in all.

2 About thirty thousand euros per month.

3 The average hourly wage in Europe is 29,4 euros.

Photo: Publio Gonzalez, a biologist with the Gorgas Institute, holds a bat in Meteti, Panama, June 6, 2018. Gonzalez and US military doctors were participating in infectious diseases training, in which they received informational lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus-carrying wildlife and insects. The event took place during Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise where US military members conduct training in civil engineer, medical and support services while benefiting the local community. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen