Is the coronavirus a bioweapon, flu on steroids, or media hype and much to do about nothing?
Is it a bioweapon? Bioweapons require infectivity, virulence, toxicity, pathogenicity, incubation period, transmissibility, lethality, and stability. Infectivity is how easily the biochemical agent (virus) gains access to the human body. Infectivity addresses the virus once it enters the body. It is the effectiveness of the virus to grow in the body.
Virulence is the severity of the disease produced by the virus. Toxicity is like virulence and it is measured in incapacitation. Pathogenicity is like infectivity. The incubation period is the time required for the virus to penetrate the body and initiate infection. It is the time from exposure to the first appearance of symptoms.
Transmissibility is how easily is the virus spreads from one person to another. Lethality is how many people die as a result of the disease. Stability is the decay rate of the virus by environmental factors (temperature, humidity, pollution, sunlight). Ease of production, transportability, and ease of dissemination are other factors.
Does the coronavirus meet the criteria for a bioweapon? I think so. Not an effective bioweapon if you are planning for mass casualties but a bioweapon that incapacitates large portions of a population (battlefield or civilian). The different flu strains that have killed millions of people over the past century would also qualify as a bioweapon.
Fear and anxiety feed the media. If it bleeds, it leads! The coronavirus has a death rate of around 2-3% with 70% of that being in the older population. For those between five and fifty years of age, the death rate is between 0.005 and 0.009% of the infected, or between 500 and 900 people per million.
The coronavirus spreads easily without symptoms present. The symptoms have been mild to severe and appear between two and fourteen days after exposure. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms.
Can you survive a bout of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath? Yes, it is possible without destroying your life and business. The annual flu causes more health problems than we are seeing currently with the coronavirus.
Both have similar symptoms. Symptoms of both can be mild to severe and can cause death. Both can result in pneumonia. The flu virus and the coronavirus are spread in similar manners – coughing, sneezing, touching similar objects. Both have similar stabilities – the ability to remain active on an object for days after touching it.
U. S. health agencies and officials have been testing the virus’s stability to determine additional precautions and safety actions to be taken. We exacerbate our own health anytime we encounter a sick person from any disease. We can make it worse when we touch objects around the sick person (think hospitals and assisted care facilities) and then touch our mouth, nose, or eyes.
Viruses love cold and dry conditions. That is why the flu season is typically in the winter every year. Viruses have a short lifespan on metals and a longer one on cardboard and plastic. The time from shipment overseas to arrival in the United States should be more than enough time for the virus to succumb to the environmental conditions. Health officials are still testing this theory. The FDA has no evidence that new cases of the coronavirus have been transmitted by imported goods.
Both the flu and the coronavirus require the same treatment. Stay at home, keep hydrated, treat symptoms with over the counter medicines, and avoid others. Seek hospitalization when a fever remains high.
Prevention is similar for both the flu and coronavirus. Wash your hands with soap and water often. Extend your hand-washing cycle for at least twenty seconds. Limit contact with others. Touch elbows rather than shake hands when concerned.
The flu is caused by different strains of influenza viruses. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is caused by a single virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. Antibiotics do not work against the flu or coronavirus. Antiviral medicines might reduce the severity and duration at best. No vaccines are available for the coronavirus. Some flu vaccines offer a level of protection.
Currently (29FEB20) there are a little over 84,000 cases of the coronavirus worldwide. There are 62 cases in the United States. It is estimated that there are one billion cases of the flu worldwide and between 10 million and 45 million in the U.S.
Deaths from the coronavirus are approaching 3000. One death was reported in America yesterday. There are between 300,000 and 650,000 deaths worldwide from the flu. The United States has between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths annually depending on the severity of the flu.
Is the coronavirus a bioweapon? It acts like a very good one, but it depends on the focus of the weapon. If killing were the goal, then the coronavirus is not a good bioweapon. If removing people from the battlefield and taxing the medical facilities and personnel treating the virus, then it is a good bioweapon.
Is the hype worth all the treatment the press is giving it? No. At this time the average ordinary annual flu far exceeds it in numbers of infected and deaths. Yes, the death rate is incrementally higher, however, the ones most at risk are the elderly. Would proper precautions limit the spread? At this time, we can say it is not. That is because people are infected from those without symptoms – something that is great for a bioweapon.
Is the coronavirus a serious threat? At present, it is a blip on the bigger scale of annual flu infections and deaths. The death rate is slightly higher, and the ease of spreading is better. However, it is too early to determine the full worldwide spread of the disease. Yes, if full-blown, then it could be more lethal than a typical annual influenza virus.
Is the coronavirus nothing to worry about? My concern is the ease with which infections can be transmitted. The length and severity of the symptoms do not appear to be life-threatening nor long-lasting. Yes, there is a worry from key employees not being present to do their jobs. School systems, hospitals, elderly care facilities, and other entities will feel the brunt of the disease more than the average individual.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life – Red O’Laughlin